Today, Skyword announced a major development in its growth as a company and as a leader of story-centric marketing. The company announced that it closed on $25 million in growth equity from Rho Acceleration, a division of Rho Capital Partners, and secured an additional $5 million working capital line from Cambridge Trust. With this new capital, Skyword will expand its product offerings to support the broader need set of tomorrow’s CMO.
CMOs are increasingly finding that their marketing stacks were designed for the ad era of yesterday, and those stacks are ill-equipped to support a content-centric approach. As story becomes a driver of marketing strategy and ownership of content moves upward through the marketing organization, marketing leaders need an enterprise-wide view of content creation and distribution across all channels and the ability to measure the impact of the experiences they are delivering.
Founder and CEO Tom Gerace explains, “Over the last several years, we’ve seen brands invest at an increasing rate in creating experiences on a channel-by-channel basis. A CMO would want to increase web engagement, so she would create a consistent experience on her brand’s website. Or she might want to drive Facebook reach and she would do the same on her brand’s Facebook page. This channel-by-channel approach worked, but led to higher costs and an inconsistent experience for consumers, who often interact with the brand across channels.
“Brands, if they want to win in this next phase, need to create a macro corporate strategy that drives their brand storytelling experience, and that brand storytelling experience needs to drive the channel strategy, not the other way around. When they do that, brands have the opportunity to connect with their customers much more often and in many more places, earn audience attention, and build relationships in a way they can’t today.”
Image attribution: Joshua Ness
Advertising in Decline: Gradually and Then Suddenly
Skyword’s vision for the future of marketing is a direct response to the diminishing efficacy of the ad-centric marketing paradigm. In the last decade, the advertising industry has struggled as consumers avoid, ignore, or opt out of ads altogether. According to PageFair’s 2017 Global Adblock Report, 11 percent of global internet users were using adblockers as of December 2016, a number that has risen by a steady 30 percent year over year. Subscription to ad-free on-demand content providers has soared, with Netflix subscribers watching an average of over an hour and a half of programming a day. Only this past year, P&G cut over $100 million from its digital ad budget without seeing any negative effects.
Stuart Elliott, until recently the longest-serving advertising columnist at the New York Times, put it plainly in 2013 when he covered Rob Murray’s departure from a digital agency to serve as president of Skyword: That ad executives were “voting with their feet” was a sign that content marketing was gaining prominence in the face of advertising’s decline. The ad industry’s woes are hitting even the biggest players. WPP, the largest ad agency in the world, lowered its earnings forecast multiple times last year. Even digital-first new media companies like Mashable, Buzzfeed, and Vice are feeling the squeeze, unable to support themselves with digital ads much the same way print media suffered with the collapse of the print ad market.
The accumulation of stress fractures is poised to give way to full-bore collapse. Says Gerace, “We may have reached the peak of advertising, but as any skier knows, it takes much longer to climb the mountain than to race down the other side. The ad growth that has occurred over decades will be reversed in a far shorter time as brands redefine how they do marketing.”
Image attribution: Aaron Birch
A Vision for the Future: When “Content Marketing” Is Just “Marketing”
Over the next ten years, we will see the word content fall away from content marketing. When people talk about marketing, they will mean a content-centric approach. As that’s happening, the stories a brand tells will become far more important to their success than they ever have been before. In this new paradigm, putting together the storytelling strategy will not be the job of the director of content marketing or even the VP of digital marketing; it will become the job of the CMO. Choosing what stories to tell, how to tell them, and how to share them with the world will be the CMO’s biggest and most important decisions.
Skyword will use this latest round of funding to accelerate this shift to story-centric marketing. Plans include nearly doubling the product team and expanding the company’s product offerings to meet the expanding needs of today’s top brands as they create and distribute great stories to audiences throughout the world. These new offerings will help marketing leaders plan their content strategy as it relates to their brand strategy, manage all of their marketing and distribution channels, and measure the performance of their marketing from a single platform. Skyword’s vision is to create a comprehensive, fully integrated, story-centric marketing platform that builds connections with our customers’ audiences and among their internal teams.
To learn more about how Skyword’s technology helps brands create original brand storytelling at scale, schedule a demo.
Featured image attribution: Nine Köpfer
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