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Have you ever sat down and watched how your children or grandchildren consume content?  What is their favorite type to use for entertainment?  What about education?  If you are seeing what I am seeing, the results are detrimental compared to the types of content we are creating today.

You see, text-based long-form content drives most Content Marketing efforts.  This is the same type of content we used in the late 90s and early 00s when we were establishing web technologies because we were not able to do anything else at scale. 

Today, we can stream rich-media entertainment and interactive educational content all over the world, to many diverse audiences, and yet we chose to launch a blog rather than a hub for blended content.

Then, what about the tools we use.  Do you consistently fight with your IT teams to strive to get the latest and greatest CMS or CRM systems to make sure you can leverage all the new AI tools for increasing engagement?  Are all your systems connected and sharing data?  Likely, your IT team dictates the adoptions curve, or the heavy reliance on high-priced agencies doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the full toolset you have purchased, let alone the latest version.

AJ nailed the problem when he asked the questions, “Are marketers educated in a way that looks forward instead of backward?” and “Are the new marketers the hybrid marketers we have heard about?”

In this episode, Scott Monty and AJ Huisman join forces to discuss the future technologies that will disrupt Content Marketing and how marketers today can embrace the scary aspects to win.  

Scott drives to key point, “You must be able to look back to predict the future!”  It is not all about knowing what technologies, tools, and tactics are the hottest, but the trajectory of the business landscape and history to see the directions and momentum they have. 

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Transcripts

- [AJ] Well, nice to finally see you, Scott.

- [Scott] It is nice to see you again my friend.

- I kind of, like I said, I was just about to reach out in Boston, but it kind of never materialized, so I'm very happy to see you now.

- Yeah, well, you know Boston is a... I mean, it's a fantastic city overall. I spent 20 years there myself. Did my undergraduate and graduate work and started my career there. And now, of course, it's home to Content Marketing World and other conferences... not Content Marketing, Marketing Prof's. But that brings us to here in Cleveland.

- [AJ] Yeah.

- Right, absolutely.

- Now are you a regular here in Cleveland?

- Well, basically, yes, I met Joe when I was in Belgium in 2010. I was working at Towers Watson at the time, an American consultancy company. And I told him my story, and he said, "Well, what you're doing is basically content, so I'm doing a little get together in September 2011, why don't you come over and tell your story?" So I said, "Okay," and I hopped on a plane and I went to the Renaissance and boom, I was there.

- But it was just like that, like Joe said you should come over and you...

- Yeah.

- That's pretty impressive when you think about it.

- Yeah, that's what I thought, as well.

- Says he can convince you to come overseas...

- Yes.

- For a little conference, I mean.

- Yeah, it was good fun, I mean, I basically learned the fact that I was doing content at, in another conference in Amsterdam with Seth Gohen, and I thought hey, I had never heard of geopolitics or content marketing or whatever.

- Right.

- And then one of my friends invited me to this dinner in Belgium, and then I met Joe and he said "come on over" and then I started reading all these books and whatever, and then I crossed Ann Hadley and C.C. Chapman in the hall of the Renaissance and I said hey. C.C. did not know who I was obviously, so he says, "No what are you doing these days?" And I thought oh no he doesn't obviously know who I am so.

- Yeah

- It was good fun. There were 600 people there. I had to go after Mark Sheridan on stage so that was a really nice act to follow. But, no it's a...

- So what's your assessment? I mean, when you compare marketing industry in Europe to that of the United States, to me it seems like there's always been a bit of a lag in terms of adoption, social media in particular, how about as far as content marketing. Have you seen kind of a parallel growth in one a little bit ahead of the other?

- Well, I partnered up with Burt, one of my mates who I met here at Content Marketing World a few years ago and we now have a company called Content Marketing Fast Forward. And we did a research study a few years ago on the maturity level of Content Marketing in Europe and we found out that it was lagging a little bit behind. But getting there, I mean the UK was about I think half a year behind or something. And Mail and Europe about a year or something.

- That's not bad.

- It was not bad and I think we're gaining very fast. So we have access through the English language literature and it was kind of an entrepreneurial spirit if you will. So the Nordics and the Western Europe are getting better at it. Southern Europe is a bit more difficult because of the fact that they're, well they're relying more on other tactics.

- Okay.

- I think we're getting there, yes.

- Okay, so what do you feel like right now at least is the driving force in Content Marketing? What's providing the most momentum going forward?

- That's a very good question. I mean there's so much out there. I mean, we've just started this conference and we've been already been bombarded with all things that are new and up and coming and video and AI and what have you. So I'm very interested. I have not made my mind up yet. What do you think?

- Well, certainly I think marketing automation is getting a fair bit of conversation right now. And I think that the challenge, and when you talk about marketing automation, it's a good traditional CRM stuff but now we're seeing it creep into artificial intelligence more. And it's been shown that bots can create content just like humans can now. While I acknowledge that that happens, that is possible, I still wonder whether it's reasonable that AI can create content that is quite as emotionally compelling as humans can. I mean...

- Do you think that's a question of time because AI's can do a lot already and through machine learning I guess they will do a lot more in the coming years I guess.

- I think that's the case. I think the systems are getting smarter. I don't think it is necessarily fair to simply dismiss them because they're machines. I think we've seen over and over again that machine learning actually, not only can mimic and compete with humans but in some cases may surpass humans. I mean, you think about what the reasonable need right now is for an editor. A writer does his or her job and then an editor goes through that and cleans it up essentially. Well, if you're doing AI generated content, why do you need an editor anymore?

- So basically what you're saying is maybe there's gonna be a shake out out of people that are doing maybe commodity work or maybe average work like Jay Acunzo said this morning. There's a lot of things going on and everybody is doing average stuff like everybody else is.

- Well one would hope that we get rid of the mediocre but then what happens? You know, then now all of a sudden you've got a shift of the core group of people that are suddenly more talented than they were before. So, that's the new average. Who's exceptional in that situation?

- I think the bar is being raised at that point.

- Yeah. Yes, you know, is there an element of human creativity that can't be surpassed by AI? I don't know the answer to that.

- Well the funny thing is in Holland we had an experiment done by a big brand and they put together an algorithm that would paint the next Rembrandt. And so they looked at all the pictures of Rembrandt over the course of the last years that he was alive obviously. And then they said, "Well okay" to the machine, "Now recreate that." And it was a genuine great piece of content that it made a whole movie and video about it. And it was astonishing that it was actually looking like an undiscovered Rembrandt if you will. So maybe that is the future of creating content. I'm not really sure like you said if bots or machines can be as creative as humans can be. But it would probably be very scary as well.

- Well that's the thing. I mean, to the degree they can mimic the known. Where is the opportunity for the unknown? And to me that's where the human creativity comes from is by being inspired by different things and being able to bring those things together to create something new. I mean when you describe it like that, certainly a machine can process two desperate things and go in a third direction. But how likely is it that anything will come of that? You know? I know the people that are pro AI will tell you that that's coming. And the skeptics like me I guess will say, well, you know, there is still some, there is still some corner of the human mind that will remain forever unique. That will remain the unpredictable, the creative, the artistic that even to a machine learning I don't think you can teach.

- And do you think that will always be the case? I mean that's a bit of a crystal ball I guess.

- Whether it's likely or not, I think in the next five to 10 years we're going to see massive progress in this area. The 10 to 20 years beyond that I think is anyone's guess at this point. On the other side of the spectrum humans, actual humans, have a lot of technology now just to produce content and the barrier to entry is almost none. I mean my son is an avid content maker. He has a YouTube channel and he's very good at video and editing and what have you.

- What's his topic? What does he make videos about?

- He makes stop motion movies. He's very creative. He's 12.

- [Scott] Wow.

- And he tends to go to the mall and interview people with his friends.

- [Scott] That's really interesting. How old is your son?

- He's 12.

- He's 12 and he still goes to the mall.

- Yeah.

- There have been instances where at least here in America we've seen teens kind of eschewing the mall. They're saying, you know what, I can connect with my friends on Snapchat, on Instagram, on YouTube, on FaceTime. No longer do we need to wait for mom and dad to ask for a ride to the mall. We're connected already. But the fact that he actually still sees value in face time, literal face time, not mechanical FaceTime. That's really encouraging.

- Yeah, I must admit that he's he's going a little away from that actual face time and now since I gave him my old Mac, he's now doing all kinds of other things online which I thought I gave him the Mac to just edit the videos and now he's using the Mac to play like what's the game again?

- Minecraft

- Minecraft

- Of course he's on Minecraft.

- Yeah he's Mine crafting and he's Face Timing his friends and Skyping his buddies to create things online so that okay this is backfiring now to me because that was not the point of giving him the Mac.

- Right.

- So yeah...

- Well I think, when you think about youth and technology, it's like water. Water will always find a way through something. You know, it will either find it's way through the smallest crack or if the crack isn't big enough it will find it's way around. And I think teens and preteens and technology, they will find a way to work with these things. And that's not just teens and preteens. I mean, that's a human thing. We are naturally, we are naturally curious species. And we wanna understand the mechanics behind stuff. We wanna understand the why. And we wanna communicate with other people. And if there's a shortcut that allows us to do that, we'll take that all day long. Right?

- I'm not really sure how it is here in the US but our marketers educated in a way that looks forward instead of backwards. I mean our day, are the new marketers that are coming on the market the hybrid market that we've been hearing so much about is it education system on marketing in the US a good one or are they just rehashing old marketing material and then when they come on the market say oh my God what's happening? I'm not really sure what's going on.

- Well it's interesting because I see people discovering these concepts that again have been around not only for five, 10 years maybe 50, 60, 70 years in the world of marketing. And that's why, and I talked about this in my speech earlier today. Understanding the fundamentals of the human condition, understanding what motivates people, having an appreciation for history and literature and the classics, able to look back to be able to predict the future I think is absolutely essential for marketers because otherwise you're stuck in a fairly small window of time where you're just looking at trends from the last five years and into the next five years. And you go back another five years, 15 years before that you'll see stuff that can actually help you avoid mistakes that you're about to make albeit on different platforms on different technologies.

- And are these youngsters then looking back that far to take that baggage forwards or not?

- I don't think they are, I mean, you know, probably you share this with me and that is you've earned your scars. You've learned from mistakes, you've observed the marketplace, you've observed some of the major players in the market, and you've seen what works. You've also seen what doesn't work.

- [AJ] Yeah

- And it is by virtue of your unique experience during this particular time and place that you practiced your craft that you are able to hone your world view about business, about marketing, about human beings. And someone just coming out of school doesn't have the benefit of that experience. And this is not something that's unique to 2017. Generations have been dealing with this since time in memorial.

- Do you think they still have that persistence to muddle along if you will and because I come companies and there are people there that after a few month it's very difficult so we're gonna move on, you know? Is that the sign of the times with the generations that were coming to market now or is it just...

- I chalk that up to human nature. I don't think that it's unique to this generation. I do think and I'm not just talking about marketing and business now but I think just generationally I think previous generations read a lot more.

- And actual books you means.

- Yeah, books still work. And as much as eBooks were supposed to overtake hard copy books five years ago, they still haven't.

- Although I love my Kindle.

- What's that?

- Although I love my Kindle.

- Well of course.

- Which is really handy.

- And why, why do you love your Kindle?

- Well because you can actually highlight stuff and then you can afterwards you have like an automatic summary of things. Where I normally tend to do books and then yellow how do you call it. Which takes a lot of time to recap things.

- It does and then it's not easy to search.

- No it's not.

- In your physical library. And you know what else is that when you get on a plane with your Kindle, you can carry your entire library with you. Whereas, you're lucky if you can get one thick book with you in your briefcase. So there's a benefit there.

- That's true. But I still like the feel of the books. I'm a bit of an old fashioned person.

- Oh I completely agree. And to me there is no better smell in the world than walking into a used bookshop. That is pure love. But kind of getting back to this you know, I think that the day in age we're in now where notifications and text alerts and Instagram messages and all the rest are vying for our attention, interrupting us every single day. I think we've lost the ability to concentrate on the long form. Whether it's long form online or long form in a physical book. And I think that to me as a classics major as an undergrad, this is where I got the most value is being able to read critically and to think and to write and to process things and bring them together. You know, I wasn't interrupted by all these things. I almost feel like personally like I've lost that ability now myself.

- I would agree with that. I mean it's very difficult. If I see my children studying or reading or doing all kinds of things that need their attention, I always say, "Hey come on, get rid of the iPhone." I mean, get rid of that. But the social pressure that they are under, that is incredible because if they don't Snapchat for a day they'll lose their whole story thing. And they get their passwords to friends who then text for them or whatever. Kind of mind boggling for me that there is so much pressure on them to be online all the time. So having the attention span back to them to actually read a book or do something else is very hard because the social pressure of being in the game and having that community online all the time is very high.

- Well to kind of circle back to the top of our conversation where we were talking about AI and machine learning. Well a machine can digest all of those books. It can digest the material from centuries of content. And now on the other side, on the human side you've got youth that has trouble getting through 140 characters. And the two are just feeding into each other where you've got this lack of interest or lack of ability to concentrate on the long form and process everything that it means along with machines that are doing it better than you ever could in the first place. That's a really dystopian future if that's the way that it's going. What's that?

- Are we doomed?

- I hope not. I don't think humans will allow that to happen quite frankly. I don't want to end this on a really sour note right. But I think we're better than that. And I think we can recognize when certainly when our species is being affected but also just reading and processing these things for pure enjoyment. I think we'll always want that.

- And is that something we can take into account for the future generation of marketers as well? I mean, do they have to be taught to relax and chill and actually read some more stuff from the past to take forward?

- I would hope that the marketers of the future would be naturally curious and want to absorb this stuff on their own. And I think that again, that's where the best marketers come from is people that are interested in the science of marketing, you know the hard facts and analytics and all the ins and outs that you need to learn and on the soft side. Where it takes a little more thinking, it takes empathy and it takes processing of some of these great concepts.

- That journalistic mind that you talk about, that's great for content marketing obviously then.

- I would hope so.

- Yeah, I would hope so.

- So I'm glad we're not doomed then.

- Well nice to be human with you sir.

- Thanks. Thank you.

tagged with: Content Marketing




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