The Future of Content Marketing
THE FUTURE OF CONTENT MARKETING
Content marketing has boomed in the last few years and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon. So, why have content marketing strategies become such a fundamental marketing component that almost every business imaginable has embraced?
The answer is very simple. When you provide your prospective customers with valuable, helpful, and free information, they notice who you are and what your business does. We build truly meaningful relationships and trust with our audiences through content marketing.
Content marketing enables businesses to reach their audiences through information they want to consume instead of bombarding them with information they have no interest in.
Content marketing has come a very long way since the emergence of the internet, social media, and platforms like YouTube, and, as technology evolves, so content marketing strategies evolve with it.
In this article, we will explore in detail the future of content marketing and the impact new technologies may have on content marketing best practices. In particular, we will explore the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the content marketing paradigm, how social media is likely to change over the coming years, and changes in the way content will be consumed in the future.
Artificial Intelligence – Good or Bad for Content?
For many people, the thought of artificial intelligence and how it may impact their lives in the future is a daunting notion.
These fears and anxieties mainly result from a lack of understanding of this wonderful technology, and because it is well known that new technologies can be used positively or negatively.
The application of AI in the creation of content is still relatively primitive.
In other words, an AI-generated novel is not going to win a Pulitzer anytime soon.
That being said, some major and quite impressive advances in AI-generated content have been made in the last couple of years. Let’s explore this in more detail.
How does AI-generated content work?
Many definitions of artificial intelligence exist, but John Mcarthy offers a very helpful definition in his 2004 paper:
“It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.
It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.”
AI-generated content is simply content generated by computer software programs that scan the internet for information, much like a search engine does.
Once the user has entered a command or request into the program, the program pulls the most relevant information from the internet and other databases and converts that into new text using Natural Language Processing. This whole process happens in the space of a few seconds or minutes.
Current AI technology fully relies on content previously written by humans to produce “new” AI content. This has profound implications for the future.
Writing is an art and AI is not yet an artist. AI can’t create new ideas, conduct scientific research, or synthesize information in the same way humans can. AI technology also lacks creativity, understanding, linguistic nuance, and conversational context.
With that in mind, let’s consider a scenario where we remove humans from the content equation entirely and leave AI to create all new content for a two-year period. In two years’ time, we will end up with an initial wave of new AI content which was written by AI by drawing on existing human text.
Then we will have additional waves of content where AI not only draws on existing human text but also on AI text. Let’s call this ‘compound AI content’ (AI content generated from AI content). Eventually, we will end up with content that makes no sense, has no original ideas, and lacks creativity. Put simply, we will end up with robot content that sounds robotic.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for AI-generated content. These technologies won’t replace professional writers but will instead assist them in the future.
Advantages of AI Content Generators
Many companies have already incorporated AI technology into their business operations to automate some functions, such as the use of customer service chatbots, analyzing data, and managing inventory.
The use of AI as a tool to generate content is slowly but surely becoming more popular as new, more advanced technologies such as ChatGPT become available. These technologies can be used to:
- Generate new ideas. Any professional writer understands blank page anxiety, which is when they have a topic to write about with no idea where to start. This is where AI can be very helpful. Writers can easily generate new ideas by asking the AI content generator a few questions.
- Bulk up existing content. If you get stuck halfway through an article or blog post with no idea which direction to take it, you could generate additional artificial content. However, caution is imperative here. Be sure not to use the AI content verbatim in your article.
- Speed up your writing. One of the main benefits of AI content is the speed with which these technologies pull information and compile new text. It is still your responsibility to check that the information is correct and the content is modified to human standards to ensure your audience and search engines are happy with it.
- Quickly get research sources. Another great advantage of AI content generators is the ability to quickly compile sources of information you want to reference in your content. It is very likely that not all the sources AI recommends are of the highest standards, so be sure to double check them.
- Save money. At the moment, content written by professional writers is still very much the preferred choice for large businesses that have significant online authority. AI can and should be used by smaller businesses with limited budgets and resources to optimize their content output schedules, provided they strictly adhere to search engine and SEO best practices.
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Disadvantages of AI Content
No computer or software program is perfect, which is why we get regular system updates on our smartphones, mobile devices, and computers. The same goes for AI content generator algorithms. Some of the main disadvantages of AI content include:
- AI content generators can produce inaccurate content. Even the most advanced AI programs can’t claim to produce error-free content. ChatGPT, for instance, tells users on their website that some responses the chatbot provides can be incorrect, harmful, or biased.
- AI content generators can produce plagiarized content. Any academic or professional writer will tell you that plagiarism is a big concern when writing anything. Plagiarism is when someone tries to pass off someone else’s work or ideas as their own. There are strict laws that prohibit writers from plagiarizing, and AI is not yet sophisticated enough to distinguish between original and plagiarized content.
- AI content can lack emotional depth and empathy. It is natural that a computer has no feelings, which means that AI content can sound cold and robotic.
- Search engines consider some AI content to be spam. Search engines rank all website pages according to originality, quality, and how useful the pages are in relation to their user’s searches. AI-generated content with no human intervention or edits still has a long way to go to meet these strict search engine quality criteria.
“People often see AI as being something scary that will one day take over the world. However, this is simply not true.
AI is programmed with a specific purpose, and it is programmed only to be able to perform that single purpose, like being able to identify a specific object in a picture.
It is only programmed to learn about how to identify that object, and so cannot do anything else. To program a computer to undertake a specific task like this may take a human programmer a lifetime or more to complete, if at all.
With AI, this can be achieved in a much shorter timeframe and can add so much value to tasks that can’t be automated in the traditional way, saving time and money.”
What does Google think about AI content?
Google has very recently changed its position on AI-generated content. In a Google Search Central blog post published in February 2023, they assert that they reward high-quality content, however it is produced.
They reward content that demonstrates qualities in their E-E-A-T framework, which means expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. In their blog, Google provides the following guidance:
“How can Search determine if AI is being used to spam search results?
We have a variety of systems, including SpamBrain, that analyze patterns and signals to help us identify spam content, however it is produced.
Will AI content rank highly on Search?
Using AI doesn’t give content any special gains. It’s just content. If it is useful, helpful, original, and satisfies aspects of E-E-A-T, it might do well in Search. If it doesn’t, it might not.
Should I use AI to generate content?
If you see AI as an essential way to help you produce content that is helpful and original, it might be useful to consider. If you see AI as an inexpensive, easy way to game search engine rankings, then no.”
The bottom line is that even using the best AI-generated content verbatim on your website may result in search engine penalties and lower rankings. AI should, for now at least, only be used as a supplementary tool.
Web 3.0, NFTs, and Blockchain Technology
Web 1.0 was the first version of the World Wide Web and was mainly made up of stationary information-only websites and pages, allowing for very little, if any, interaction.
This was followed by Web 2.0, which is underpinned by user interactivity and collaboration and is the current, user-generated content era, utilizing vast centralized data centers to store user data.
Web 3.0, also known as the “semantic web,” is the idea that the internet can evolve beyond the current Web 2.0 model of centralized services and data collection/storage to a more decentralized and user-controlled model.
User data is fast becoming the single most valuable commodity after oil, and some businesses are exploiting their user data for capital gains.
The main idea behind Web 3.0 is to create a more open, transparent, and secure internet that is based on a decentralized system, peer-to-peer networks, and blockchain technology.
With Web 3.0, users will have much greater control over their personal data and digital identities and will be able to interact directly with other users and services without the need for intermediaries such as Facebook or YouTube.
Web 3.0 aims to be a more democratic and user-centric online realm that empowers individual users and communities to create and share content, conduct transactions, and build applications in a decentralized and permissionless environment.
Web 3.0 is still in the infant stages of development, but it has the potential to transform the online world as we know it.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital files/assets that are unique and cannot be exchanged on a one-to-one basis like cryptocurrencies. NFTs are created using blockchain technology, which allows for their ownership and authenticity to be verified and tracked in a decentralized manner.
Put simply, NFTs are unique digital signatures that distinguish one-of-a-kind digital assets from other similar digital assets such as music, digital art, and videos. NFTs are often traded in digital marketplaces, and some have sold for millions of dollars.
Blockchain technology allows for recording transactional and other information in such a way that makes it very hard or even impossible to change or hack the data. It is a digital ledger that can be accessed by multiple users, allowing for secure and efficient data sharing.
Each block in a blockchain contains a record of a transaction, and once another block is added to the chain, it cannot be altered or deleted. This makes the blockchain a highly secure and tamper-free database.
Blockchain technology was originally only used in cryptocurrency technologies and was made popular by the Bitcoin white paper in 2008.
Today, blockchain technology has been adopted in other industries and applications, such as supply chain management, voting systems, digital identity verification, and even digital marketing. LinkedIn offers very informative insights into how blockchain technology will change digital content marketing trends.
Mudge asserts that:
“With Web 3.0 on the horizon and the decentralization of information, blockchain technology is likely to become one of the most important techniques for distributing data and content in a safe and consistent way.”
Voice search will dominate.
Voice search has changed the way people find and consume their content and is already having a profound impact on content marketing. Some of the ways voice search is likely to impact content marketing strategies include:
- More conversational content. Voice search queries tend to be more conversational, personal, and natural-sounding than traditional text-based searches. To optimize for voice search, content marketers need to focus on creating content that answers specific questions and provides value to users in a more conversational tone.
- Increased emphasis on local search. Voice search is often used for local search queries, such as “near me” searches. Content creators must ensure that their content is optimized for local search by including location-specific keywords and phrases, and ensuring their website is optimized for local SEO.
- Optimization for featured snippets. Voice search devices often read out featured snippets from search results. Content marketers need to optimize their content to appear in featured snippets by providing clear and concise answers to common user queries.
- Easy to read structured data. To appear in voice search results, content needs to be structured in a way that is easy for search engines to read. Content creators must use structured data markup to help search engines understand the content and context of their pages.
- Stronger focus on mobile optimization. Voice search is primarily used on mobile devices, so content creators must also ensure that their content is optimized for mobile devices, with fast loading times, responsive design, and easy-to-use interfaces.
Voice search is very likely to continue to have a significant impact on content marketing campaigns, particularly because younger generations enjoy the convenience of voice assistants and searches.
Machine learning is a type of AI that allows computer systems to automatically learn and improve from their experiences, without being intentionally programmed to learn.
In other words, the computer system teaches itself new information by analyzing data entirely on its own.
Machine learning has some significant implications for the field of content marketing. It opens up the possibility for content marketers to create much more personalized and targeted content.
Some major machine learning advantages include:
- Personalization. Machine learning algorithms can analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and trends in customer behavior, enabling businesses to create more personalized content that resonates with their target audience.
- Automation. Machine learning algorithms can automate certain tasks in content creation and distribution, such as identifying the best time to post content, selecting the most effective keywords, and generating content ideas.
- Predictive analytics. Machine learning can be used to analyze customer data and predict future behavior, allowing businesses to create content that anticipates the needs and interests of their customers.
- Content optimization. Machine learning algorithms can analyze the performance of content and provide insights into how to optimize it for better engagement and conversion.
- Content curation. Machine learning can be used to curate content from a variety of sources and deliver it to users based on their interests and preferences.
When asked how important machine learning is to advance the tech industry, Mudge said:
“Machine learning is an essential tool in the tech industry. It allows a programmer to produce software that undertakes complex tasks in a fraction of the time it would take to produce a traditionally coded application, as long as the programmer has sufficient training data available.”
No More Cookies
Although it is very difficult to predict exactly when cookies will become a thing of the past, there are several glimmers of hope that suggest we may see cookies disappear altogether.
These include some privacy concerns where users are more aware than ever of how data is being captured, stored, and used. Many countries, such as the European Union, have implemented strict laws that protect their citizens’ rights to data protection.
These laws are being adopted more widely across the globe, rendering cookies and data collection in a controversial light.
Lastly, Apple has already blocked third-party cookies on their Safari browser, and Google plans to do the same on Chrome within the next year.
Many tech giants, including Facebook’s parent company Meta, believe that the metaverse is the future of the internet.
The metaverse is essentially a 3D online world you access through augmented reality headsets. The idea is to create an immersive 3D digital world that runs parallel to the real world where we interact with others in real-time across vast distances.
The metaverse will offer a much more personalized engagement with the internet as we know it. Some of the main changes the metaverse can bring about in content marketing include:
- New forms of content. The metaverse will create new opportunities for businesses to create interactive and immersive content that goes beyond traditional forms of marketing, such as videos and blog posts. This could include experiences that allow users to interact with products in a virtual environment or attend virtual events.
- Targeted advertising. The metaverse will allow businesses to target advertising to highly specific audiences based on their virtual activities and behaviors. For example, an advertiser could target users who have visited a specific virtual location or interacted with a certain virtual object.
- Social engagement. The metaverse will provide businesses with new opportunities to engage with customers in a social setting. This could include virtual networking events, group activities, and community building.
- Enhanced data analytics. The metaverse will provide businesses with a wealth of data on user behavior and preferences, which can be used to inform content marketing strategies and improve the effectiveness of campaigns.
- New revenue streams. The metaverse will create new opportunities for businesses to monetize content and experiences, such as virtual goods, in-game purchases, and subscriptions.
The Future of Social Media
No one can say with certainty what social media will look like in the future, but several factors such as new technologies, the ever-changing regulatory environments, and changes in consumer behaviors allow us to make calculated predictions.
It is very clear from the enormous amounts of capital Meta, Microsoft and Google are investing in developing the metaverse that they likely plan a shift to 3D virtual social media and other platforms.
It is likely these companies will keep the traditional versions of their current platforms, which may over time be phased out as the metaverse takes hold.
We may also see an increase in video and immersive content, including 360-degree videos on social media as 5G technology improves and becomes widely available. Privacy concerns will likely lead to more secure messaging and spam elimination.
It’s very likely we will also see an increase in more focused social media communities. Social media platforms are likely to continue to fragment into smaller, more specialized communities, catering to specific interests and demographics.
Finally, we could see a serious crackdown on fake news circulating on social channels due to stricter laws and regulations criminalizing the deliberate spread of disinformation.
How will content consumption change?
The way in which content is consumed is not fixed. Our choices were still very limited just a few years ago when only newspapers, radio, and terrestrial TV dominated.
With the rise of streaming giants like Netflix, traditional TV ads almost instantly became a thing of the past to those who committed themselves to on-demand streaming.
In much the same way, consumers today only want to engage with content that is of true value and interest to them, which means super personalized content is the future of content marketing.
Mobile content will take center stage as mobile devices increase in popularity. Consumers have their mobile devices with them 24/7 and expect seamless access to information.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies will continue to evolve and offer consumers new and more immersive ways to engage with content. Subscription-based models are likely to become increasingly popular, as consumers seek out high-quality, ad-free content experiences that offer greater value for money and convenience.
Lastly, there will be a much greater focus on quality, original, trustworthy, and authentic content.
Embracing New Technology
Let’s imagine that the telephone was rejected as a communication medium back in 1878, or that no one saw the value in the electric washing machine in the early 1900s.
We would have no international communications and people would still be doing backbreaking domestic work from sunup to sundown.
Part of the human spirit is to develop, improve, and advance what we know, which, fortunately for us, results in improving old technologies and developing new ones.
Technology can greatly improve the quality of our lives. It is through technology that we connect and collaborate with one another, incubating new ideas, developing lasting relationships, and growing our businesses and economies.
Modern technology gives us access to information in a way that our ancestors could only ever have dreamed about. It can help us restore and protect our environment and live sustainable lives.
New technology must be scrutinized to ensure we understand the potential risks and downsides, but it must not be rejected simply because we have a limited understanding of it.
Mudge concludes that:
“New technologies are increasingly making tedious tasks easier with ever-decreasing learning curves.
As technology moves on, certain functions that we as humans undertake are increasingly reliant on new technology, and older technologies are being phased out.
If as a business you are not open to new technologies or you are resistant to adopting them, you may get left behind.”
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