Content Marketing Reaches $47 Billion

By Steve Smith

As marketers move their money away from traditional advertising, custom publishing and branded content placements are the main beneficiaries. According to a new survey from the Custom Content Council, corporations in the U.S. spent a record $47.2 billion in 2009 on branded content, from magazines to placed articles, blog posts, and video to digital zines and e-newsletters. In its survey of marketers, the CCC also found that almost a third of marketing, advertising and communications budgets were now funneling into content marketing, the highest level in the decade the industry group has polled marketers.

“The data shows just how much change the industry has undergone in 12 months and we haven’t even touched the social media surface,” says Council executive director Lori Rosen. The raw numbers around spending on custom content spiked considerably this year because the CCC started including electronic forms of marketing for the first time. And the group will expand its reach even further, says Rosen. “Next year we will be measuring Twitter, Facebook and more.”

In addition to traditional print publishing, Web site updates, blog posts and e-newsletters are the most common forms of branded content. Mobile, digital magazines and interactive PDFs are among the least common forms of corporate publishing. Nevertheless, brands said they were planning on investing more in mobile, video and audio content this year.

The recession hit custom publishing more obliquely than some media. The number of unique printed custom published titles declined from 1.9 per brand in 2008 to 1.7 in 2009, but the overall page count and circulation for the projects increased. In 2009 the average circulation per custom print pub was at an all time high of 48,162 per issue. There was also a bump in quality to those fewer titles, with 66% now printing in four colors.

The survey encompassed 350 companies across industry segments, including Dell, AARP, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and GE Healthcare. The research was done in partnership with newsletter ContentWise.

The rise in interest and investment in custom content reflects an extended shift of marketing budgets away from traditional advertising and toward marketing, promotions and customer relationship management. The Internet especially has made all brands into publishers as each must maintain a robust Web site and stay current in the online traffic ecosystem.