Between Rick and Noah Brier, Barbarian Group alumni are all over the new [sigh] ‘market space’ of Content Marketing. That makes a lot of sense since they helped invent it with Subservient Chicken.
The way I see it, Content Marketing is the evolution of Fred Wilson’s Earned Media (related conference slides) views circa 2009. While most of the big online companies will benefit, especially Facebook and Twitter, the organizations focusing on it for their bread and butter are the most interesting. Tumblr is the largest in terms of traffic, but some good-sized ad sales organizations are already there too: SayMedia, FM Publishing, and Glam. They are all pushing content for it’s own sake — or co-opting existing great content, attracting loyal readerships and only pairing appropriate advertisers with those online publications. Yahoo and MSN have attempted to do this sort of thing for years, but they could never hit the right editorial-publishing balance. This new generation seems to be much closer.
There is also a crop of earlier stage companies building networks up to be serious players: Outbrain, Zemanta (funded by USV), and as mentioned Percolate, plus a couple of others whose confidences I’m not going to break. I’d look for a lot of VC money and media focus on this space, large media properties finding ways to participate, and bunch of M&A, and and a lot more craziness than that if Glam gets public.
My friend Diana did a post recently musing on the streaming nature of social media and how sometimes important news can get missed as the events in people’s lives just scroll by. She made a nice post about the basic facts. I liked it. So I’m going to do it too.
I left the Barbarian Group almost ten months ago. Since then, I’ve been working on a book about advertising, tech and economics. I’ve also been working on a novel about ghosts. I have been working for about six months to open a new coworking space in Williamsburg called Secret Clubhouse, that will be opening in this summer.
On top of all that, I have some new exciting work I am doing. I will be working for Tumblr for the next six months on a full time basis as a consultant for their Sales and Marketing team. I’ve been talking to them and working with them for a while on an advisory basis, but I think now is the time and come and help them for a while in a more hard core manner. I obviously love Tumblr, but I also love that they are committed to this whole “good” thing when it comes, well, anything, but also to advertising and revenue. Much like we were at The Barbarian Group. Most of the advertising on the web is crap still, and after fifteen years of working to make it less offensive from the agency side, I’m excited to help try and do so from the platform side for a while.
Since the dawn of time, advertising has swung back and forth like a pendulum. It goes from the hard selling direct ads of Wanamaker and Draft back to the creative side of Bernbach and Bogusky. I really believe that the eternal pendulum is swinging back from direct to creative, and perhaps for the first time on the web in a good 20 years since we took our first miserable stab with the banner. Ha. Native advertising, premium content, getting out of the banner box and being integrated and real. I mean, I think about this so much that this is what I’ve been writing this mythical book about (and don’t worry, it’s still coming along).
And Tumblr’s all about creativity and creators, from product to community. I’m excited to help make sure that commitment extends to any advertising they do.
It’s gonna rule.
I’ve got some other things coming up soon too, and they are going to be awesome too, but that news is for another day.