I’m willing to bet that no one has ever walked out of the Museum of Modern Art and said “damn, that was good content!”. Or that anyone has ever left an inspiring theatrical performance, movie or even an exciting football game and said, “now that’s some kick ass content!”.
I’ll make another, equally confident wager that Andy Warhol, Beyonce or Ridley Scott have never been referred to as “Content Providers”.
Yet in the Marketing Communications/Advertising world, especially with the digital pure players, all communications and messages - visual, written and experiential have been clumped together and reduced to that single, bland word - content.
And as the new nomenclature would dictate, writers, art directors, designers, composers and directors have been stripped of titles that identify their skills and chucked into a single, beige, fabric cubicle where they now reside, en masse, as “content providers”.
Now I’m not trying to make a direct comparison between the advertising and the arts and entertainment world, however both worlds share the similar tasks of engaging, charming, and/or convincing their audiences.
So why did we, advertising and marketing people, get stuck with the “content” moniker?
Well, like most things in our business you can discover the origins of change by following the money. As traditional ad agency models clung to old media and soft measurements like GRPs, reach and frequency and questionable qualitative research, the new digital players - structuralists by nature - began dealing in hard data, more cost effective touch points and communications that can be changed rapidly to optimize ROI. Their focus, their strength has been and remains as conveyors of message, not message makers. Messages are simply the things that go in the boxes they make, the contents - content.
Today we can segment our audiences better, talk to them or offer them experiences in better places and at better times, you gotta love it. But in truth the new channels, platforms and devices will be under delivering on the full value of their promises until it is understood that messaging is not defined by the touchpoint, but by the touch.