Joe Meloni

When marketers think about content marketing, their minds often turns to words. They imagine news articles and blog posts, white papers and instructional pieces populating their websites. While quality written content that is optimized for search is an ongoing need in marketing toolkits, this week’s headlines remind marketers that content marketing (and audience expectation) is evolving.

A study from comScore illustrates the growth of video perfectly. According to the company, more than 180 million Americans watched 36.6 billion videos on the web in May. The figure represents an all-time high, and it’s likely that this will grow even more. Aside from those watching content on their desktop and laptop computers, increasingly capable smartphones and tablets have made it easier than ever for users to stream video no matter where they are.

Sites, such as YouTube, Facebook and others, have more video content shared in recent months. YouTube and other Google sites alone streamed more than 19 billion videos in May. More than 150 millions Americans streamed video on YouTube in the month.

For marketers, creating custom video content that provides similar information as articles and blog posts in a different format is becoming increasingly effective and popular. Brafton reported that YouTube alone served more than 1.3 billion ads in the month. Aside from marketing videos placed before featured content, pairing a video with a blog post on a website can help marketers drive traffic and keep prospects engaged. As more organizations begin integrating high-quality website content into their marketing efforts, providing an innovative video element can be a distinguishing factor.

The mobile audience is especially active in watching videos, according to a report from the Nielsen. The study found that 13 percent of Americans watch online videos from some web-connected device every day with 28 percent of respondents saying their video viewing takes place on a tablet. Moreover, 21 percent of respondents watch videos on a smartphone every day.

Brafton reported that 72 percent of Americans said they had not viewed video content on a tablet in the last month. While this is a clear majority, the rapid growth of tablets will likely result in a surge in Americans‘ mobile video consumption moving forward. While videos themselves do not offer companies an SEO lift, the value of video content is clear in the sheer amount of people browsing the web to watch it.

In terms of the subject matter for video content, marketers can apply similar efforts as they do for news content marketing or white papers campaigns. Video targeting will be key to engaging the right audiences.

According to a report from 33Across, many businesses are struggling to make sense of the data they have on their target audiences, however. The information that should be used as part of any web marketing campaign is available to marketers, but determining key trends that will inform these efforts is a major challenge for 70 percent of marketers, 33Across found. Moreover, 91 percent believe that they are seeing results from new media marketing, but they aren’t sure how to demonstrate their success.

This is often an issue for marketers, and developing a strategy for any web campaign, whether it’s video content or news articles isn’t easy. However, Brafton reported that the majority of marketers say integrating data from several different channels into one cross-channel message is a best practice for success. Conversion funnels are no longer made up of just one point of contact. Prospects are arriving on websites from social and subscribing to email marketing campaigns. From there, they access website content, read articles and watch videos. These should all support similar brand messages and take visitors along conversion funnels. Otherwise, messages can get lost and leads can dry up.

One of the most popular ways for prospects to find content is through search. According to AYTM Market Research, 63 percent of consumers said they use search every day. Appealing to these prospects requires high-quality content and a well-rounded presence around the web. Moreover, those using news content marketing should reconsider their keyword strategy, with 49.2 percent of users saying the terms they enter of a varying length.

Highlighting this study, Brafton reported that mixing longtail keywords into a content marketing strategy can drive traffic. As more companies develop keyword strategies that allow for natural use or varying terms, search is becoming more relevant and consumers are noticing. More than 88 percent said they usually find the information they’re looking for without much trouble.

The Online Publishers Association reported this week that tablet users are ideal targets of these search and content marketing efforts with 94 percent of owners saying content consumption is their primary activity on their devices. These people are reading news articles and researching company websites to find the most relevant and interesting information. Additionally, with mobile devices, the OPA reported that 29 percent of users said advertising of all kinds drives them to search for products with their smartphones or tablets.

On Tuesday, Brafton reported that focusing on tablet and smartphone users can help some companies drive site traffic and conversions. As content consumption is so high for this audience, it’s clear they’re actively seeking out relevant articles and video that will help them make decisions on potential purchases.

A strong form of mobile content consumption is social media. Targeting all consumers will with social media marketing efforts is especially important given it’s the channel’s proven performance in terms of driving conversions and lead generation. ComScore(13) reported that a case study included Facebook content from retailer targeted improved conversions among fans exposed to posts from the company grew by an average of 3.6 percent.

A strong form of mobile content consumption is social media. Targeting all consumers will with social media marketing efforts is especially important given it’s the channel’s proven performance in terms of driving conversions and lead generation. ComScore reported that a case study included Facebook content from retailer targeted improved conversions among fans exposed to posts from the company grew by an average of 3.6 percent.

Highlighting the report, Brafton found that 4 percent of Target fans that saw content from the company converted within four weeks. This compared with the 3.3 percent of all fans who eventually did shows converted, showing that social has a strong influence over purchasing habits. Sharing articles, images and other content with fans on the site improves interest and leads to more frequent conversion.

Social media marketing campaigns have become increasingly diverse and multi-platform. While comScore’s report shows the value of marketing with Facebook, more than 2 million companies have found success marketing on LinkediIn, the company announced on Tuesday. Additionally, these businesses are increasingly diverse, ranging from global B2B vendors to local retailers.

Brafton reported this week that, as part of an effort to make its social marketing more effective, LinkedIn rolled out targeted status updates. With the tool, businesses can ensure that certain followers and contacts see specific kinds of content. Given the multifaceted nature of LinkedIn, as both a professional recruiting tool and marketing platform, businesses using it often create different kinds of content. The ability to get the right posts and links in front of the correct users is critical for success with web marketing.

Those relying on LinkedIn and social marketing also received more good news on Tuesday, especially if they use social dashboard tool HootSuite. HootSuite announced that it has integrated LinkedIn Company Pages into its service, which will allow marketers to manage their Facebook, Twitter and other campaigns alongside their LinkedIn Activity.

Brafton reported that additional tools to support LinkedIn marketing are important, as the platform is among the top priorities for social marketers in 2012.

A diverse week of news is in the books, and next week may very well be a different story with Google I/O set to kick off Wednesday in San Francisco. The conference may provide interesting insights on Google’s plans for its search engine, as well as further announcements related to Google+.