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New Year's Resolution: Forbes' EMEA director Paul Mikhailoff on why brand journalism is its big bet for 2016

In the latest of a series of predictions on the year ahead, Paul Mikhailoff, director of Forbes' EMEA business, offers up his thoughts on what 2016 will bring and outlines his new year's resolution for the publisher.

Forbes’ big bet for 2016 in Europe is on brand journalism as marketers look to integrate their voice as organically as possible into the media. In 2015, Forbes saw how brands started to realise their potential as brand journalists and began producing an abundance of content, rich with domain expertise. Next year, Forbes expects this trend to continue in big strides as brands bring content creation in-house.

According to a report Forbes recently published called Publish or Perish, over 90 per cent of CMOs surveyed believe their organisations must develop a publishing function in order to execute their growth agenda and manage rising costs and the complexity of content operations. Forbes has been engaged in more and more progressive conversations with brands interested in developing internal resources, with some having already established sophisticated newsrooms dedicated to brand journalism.

Whilst Forbes is not prophesising the end to traditional content partnerships between brands and media owners as this will remain powerful and strategically appropriate, brands are increasingly aware of the opportunities to be part of the broader conversation, to be agile and to seek access to the right platform to allow them to be reactive. Indeed, the evolution of publishing technology and the increasing range of amplification platforms are going to have an even greater significance in 2016. The Content Marketing Institutes 2015 B2B Content Marketing report findings state that 86 per cent of respondents are actively using content marketing and 42 per cent of respondents are publishing daily or multiple times a week.

The real challenge for brands is to connect their content to relevant environments whilst generating scale. Forbes’ BrandVoice platform addresses this challenge as it allows brands to publish directly onto its CMS platform. Forbes’ approach allows for brands to benefit from organic distribution and makes brands’ content visible to search, all before a promotional ad is even served.

Mobile is also going to play an increasingly important role, especially since the millennial set is a focus for so many marketers. Display advertising will continue to evolve and improve, but brand publishing strategies must be optimised to ensure that mobile is not just a “nice to have” but a fully integrated component. Forbes is now seeing approximately 50 per cent of its total traffic on Forbes.com coming from mobile, 90 per cent of that from smartphones and 48 per cent from those between the ages of 18 – 34 with BrandVoice optimised.

In 2016, Forbes also predicts that brands and publishers will become much closer, sharing and understanding data to build a picture of what audiences want. One size does not fit all. Audiences’ expectations will differ from publisher to publisher and if user expectation is not studied, brand content will not realise its potential. Publishing is a blend of passion and science, and Forbes works with all of its BrandVoice partners to ensure that they are both creating compelling and engaging content, as well as extracting all the data they need from the SimpleReach analytical platform to be more successful and add the most value to the user experience.

Forbes’ New Year’s resolution is to continue innovating, listening to clients, working with brands and agencies, sharing data, and developing products and an experience that will ultimately connect them to their audiences at scale.

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Paul Mikhailoff

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