Despite the effect COVID-19 had on businesses, a new forecast says the amount advertisers spent on content marketing will be $63.3 billion in 2020, a modest 1.5% year-over-year decline. Radio is a small player with $2.23 million spent on content marketing on the airwaves this year, accounting for a 3.5% share. But radio could play a much larger role because it has the creative know-how that is critical to succeeding in this growing space.
The new numbers are from “Sizing the Content Marketing Opportunity,” released today from Borrell Associates in collaboration with the Local Media Consortium, Local Media Association and the Facebook Journalism Project. It measured how big the content marketing space is, what types of media benefit most and what kinds of businesses are most inclined to utilize it – and at what rates.
Radio finished fifth out of 11 media distribution channels tracked. With their ability to “go deep,” digital platforms are the biggest magnet for content marketing, capturing nearly two thirds (66.3%) of the pie, followed by TV (10.4%), direct mail (7.0%) and other print (5.4%). Radio is next (3.5%), then cable TV (2.7%), newspapers (2.4%), out of home (0.9%), cinema (0.7%), directories (0.5%) and telemarketing (0.2%).
The dollar figures don’t represent what individual media platforms made on content marketing but instead refer to what businesses spend to develop the content and distribute it via these channels.
While it currently attracts only a fraction of the $63.3 billion market, radio can play a big role in the content marketing movement – well beyond the $2.2 million pittance it's getting now, says Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell. “Radio already has a significant piece of the equation that competing media are having to spend money to build out: an ideas-generating unit within the advertising department,” he tells Inside Radio. “Most stations have promotions departments designed to get creative with advertisers. Content marketing opportunities are a natural outgrowth.”
For example, when a retail location has a grand opening, rarely would a newspaper or TV station provide any sort of coverage. Yet radio stations “would fill up the helium tanks, roll out the remote, and have store managers drop in and talk about how things are going,” Borrell points out. “A successful content marketing campaign for radio can branch off that concept in a thousand ways.”
The study defines content marketing broadly to encompass advertorials, native advertising, sponsorships, sponsored content and branded content.
Growing Priority For Businesses
More small businesses plan to make content marketing part of their marketing mix in 2021. According to a Borrell October 2020 panel of small- and medium-sized businesses, 46% said they used branded content in some form; 45% said it had become more of a priority in 2020; and 56% said it would be more of a priority in 2021.
The top five spending categories in the sector revolve around credit and finance, telecom, real estate and automotive – all verticals that already make significant investments in radio.
Other industry categories have increased spending between 5% and 9%. They include many that are compelled to educate and inform the public: mental health services, insurance, medical doctors, colleges & universities, financial services, and two of the biggest content marketing spenders – real estate agents and city, state, and local governments.
The 1.5% decline forecast for 2020 is due almost entirely to the retraction of marketing activity in a few dozen categories that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Travel/tourism, live entertainment, sporting events, clothing, and recreation have reduced content marketing expenditures an average of 19% due to business slowdowns or shutdowns.
Gordon Borrell sees the growth in content marketing as part of a media revolution that portends to restore power to the hands of the ones paying most of the bills – advertisers. “They're sort of pissed that you don't consider their grand opening a news story or worthy of doing a remote from their parking lot,” he says.
Demand is expected to increase as businesses looking to get the word out about a product, service, or level of expertise realize their internal information holds marketing value. Local media companies have a natural advantage in tapping into the movement. “Their expertise in storytelling and mastery of media distribution represents a strategic competitive advantage over the boutique content shops that have sprouted across the country,” the report concludes.