Manage the Overlap in Your Content Marketing Technology

March 6, 2020
Contributor: Kasey Panetta

As marketers come under pressure to use more of their martech capabilities, content marketing technology providers are combining functionalities to position themselves as integrated solutions.

Since 1895, when John Deere, the tractor company, published the first edition of its content marketing magazine, The Furrow, brands have embraced the vast opportunities to engage customers with stories. The growth in digital channels has continued to unlock storytelling opportunities for different channels and content formats. In a world of limited resources, however, content marketers need tools to effectively manage content operations and efficiently manage resources across channels to tell brand stories.

In response, marketing technology (martech) solutions providers have developed platforms to address some or all of the five stages of content operations: Planning; ingestion and creation; development and approval; organization and storage; and publication, distribution and measurement. The content operations ecosystem, in turn, comprises five distinct martech solutions. Yet rapid change in the market has caused natural evolution of these solutions, resulting in significant functional overlap between once-distinct systems.

“The content operations space covers a range of established and emerging platforms,” says Colin Reid, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Marketing leaders must understand current environments and capabilities relative to their needs and position for the opportunities created by changes to the vendor landscape.”

Start by understanding digital asset management (DAM) — one of the most popular platforms — and how DAM increasingly overlaps with the other four common content operations platforms. Marketers need to understand the difference between solutions and plan for functional convergence or mergers.

Digital asset management

DAM supports the entire content process, from asset ingestion through development, publication and measurement. DAMs can also handle all forms of content (e.g., text, images, videos and audio) and support different types of users (e.g., internal marketing talent, external agency talent, and non-marketing talent from HR or customer support). This diversity accounts for their appeal.

DAM overlap with product information management (PIM)

PIM solutions grab information about products and services from where it lives in the organization’s many siloed databases. The platform takes information like product specifications and materials inputs, structures that information and makes it available to other martech systems, including DAMs.

Integration with enterprise systems like ERP, is unique to PIM, but reaping benefits requires significant IT support, both to implement the solution and manage it. Some SaaS providers hope to capitalize on the demand for PIM functions by offering integrated solutions with basic DAM and PIM capabilities. These may provide enough functionality for organizations with immature or small-scale content marketing programs.

DAM overlap with marketing work management (MWM)

MWM provides an overview of all content projects underway in the organization and where they are in their workflow. These systems also make it easy to manage the people involved in a content project (e.g., in-house staff, agency staff, freelancers, etc.).

MWM enables marketers to develop content for one channel and repurpose it for another — which is critical given parallel increases in the number of marketing channels and the variety of content formats.

Overlap between DAM systems and MWM is coming from both directions, as DAM vendors add simple workflow management functionality to their platforms and MWM vendors integrate DAM capabilities.

DAM overlap with content management platform (CMP)

CMPs provide a range of capabilities across the entire content marketing workflow, from ideation and planning to creation, publication and performance measurement.

Many CMP providers claim their solutions can replace a DAM. And they can, in some cases — especially for organizations using a DAM solely for marketing and not for other content-driven functions like HR.

DAM overlap with media asset management (MAM)

MAM engines provide functions for creative teams that develop and edit audio-visual media. Video editors in particular can save time and storage space and reduce errors using MAM.

Some DAM vendors provide MAM functionality as part of their platforms, or by integrating with partner solutions. Marketers should be clear which it is, and test extensively to be sure the functions work seamlessly.

Some marketing teams will find that integrated solutions serve their purposes; others require best-of-breed platforms to get all the functions they need. Basic best practice is to do a thorough inventory of needs and use cases and use the outcomes to frame the cost-benefit analysis of a given solution. It also pays in a fast-changing environment to keep contract timeframes short so you can more easily switch when content needs outgrow your chosen platform.

Gartner for Marketer clients can read more in the full research The Future of Content Operations: How to Deliver Marketing in a Changing World by Colin Reid.

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