2015 Trends in Review: Publishers, Content and Audiences

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Kicking off a new year in business should always involve a moment of reflection, and content marketing is no different. Reflection is not just about saying, “we were up xx%,” it’s about the WHAT and the WHY. We are breaking down the top trends and takeaways from 2015 covering Publishers, Content, and Audiences.

The 2015 Trends below are based upon the RevResponse B2B Publisher Network that includes +5MM content requests annually.

Hello Publishers, Can I Have Your Autograph (or e-signature?)

As content marketing continues to grow, so do the pockets of Publishers…at least the Publishers that have jumped on board with the content marketing and monetization trains. The RevResponse Network of Publishers is reporting +18% annual revenue and +45% content request volume over 2014. So how are they doing it?

This year the highest revenue-driving tool for Publishers was EMAIL. The channel that some say is dying truly seems to be the most evergreen channel available today. +55% of revenue was driven by Publishers using Email Marketing to drive traffic and conversions; +17% year-over-year. Email Marketing includes RSS Newsletters, editorial-style newsletters, and standalone emails highlighting a single piece of content. By monetizing Email, Publishers are able to create a 1-to-1 personalized experience for their readers while also avoiding on-site ad blocking technology.

An example of editorial-styled posts and native advertising.

Takeaway: Email is not going anywhere. Publishers need to jump on the inbox train and monetize their mailings now.

Additionally, editorial styled posts and social media posts continued to drive a significant amount of volume for Publishers, with revenue increasing 30% year-over-year. This type of monetization is a great example of native advertising and is quite successful. Publishers that are excelling with these posts are embracing what native is all about – the audience. Targeted, customized, real-life editorial speaking to the interests of the reader wins every time….oh and by the way – this form of advertisement will not get taken down by the ad blockers either!

Takeaway: Native advertising will be a powerful tool in 2016, start simply by testing an editorial-style article post.

Is Content Still King? Yes, we’ll Agree.

As more Publishers, B2B, and B2C companies join the content marketing movement audiences are receiving an overwhelming amount of content, everywhere. This flood is putting pressure on content producers to perform. The NetLine Corporation digital research library, TradePub.com, featured over 4,000 pieces of content this year, including white papers, technical research, publications, eBooks, webinars, and training courses. We categorized the top 20 titles that trended this year with TradePub.com members; each of the titles were requested over 20,000 times, +6500% higher than the average:

Top Themes of 2015:

  • 60% Professional Development / Self Improvement
  • 40% Technology: Windows, Linux, Hacking, Web Security, Ubuntu

To get a better picture of this year’s trends, here are the Top 10 Titles requested in 2015:

  • Creative Thinking for Dummies
  • Linux Utilities Cookbook
  • Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next
  • Never Apply for a Job Again!
  • Ubuntu Linux Toolbox
  • Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You Always Wanted to Be
  • The Database Hacker’s Handbook: Defending Database Servers
  • Maximize Your Memory
  • Work-Life Balance for Dummies eBook
  • How to Make the Most of Your Workday

…And because we love listicles, more fun facts on titles this year:

  • 20% of titles started with a number
  • 8% of titles started with “How…”
  • 5% of titles included “10”…“10 Ways, Top 10”
  • 4% of titles included “New”
  • 3% of titles included “Tips”
  • < 1% of titles included “Don’t”
  • < 1% of titles include “Shouldn’t”

This year content producers focused on teaching, guiding, and aiding readers in their research process. Very few titles used the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) or FOMO (fear of missing out) approach to push their content.

Takeaway: Audiences are looking to learn. Provide value, value, value! Professional development, guides, tips, how-tos are powerful themes for acquisition.

Alongside the digital content powerhouse, print publications continued to play a role in both the year’s bottom line and as an acquisition tool; popular publications include:

  • Global Finance
  • NASA Tech Briefs
  • Total Retail
  • Equipment World
  • Dairy Foods
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Audience Trends

Now, let’s start a slow clap for AUDIENCES, without whom none of this would be possible. The reader, the customer, the user, the reason for waking up in the morning… But the question is “who are they?” What audience groups or demographics were trending in 2015 to drive all of the success and growth mentioned above?

To answer this question we applied the RevResponse Audience Intelligence Reports (AIR reports) to the entire Publisher Network data set for 2015 to measure the growth by audience demo:



Job Level / Professionals categorized their Job Level as:
+55% Manager Level and above

Company Industry/ Tech was a huge theme in content this year and the professional profiles match. Professionals categorized their employers’ industry as:

  • 30% Computers and Technology (+50% year-over-year)
  • 9% Manufacturing
  • 8% Healthcare/Medical
  • 7% Finance
  • 6% Government

Job Area/ Professionals categorized their major job function as:

  • 40% IT/Computers/Electronics (+30% year-over-year)
  • 11% Executive (+20% year-over-year)
  • 10% Engineering

Company Size/ Professionals categorized their company size as:

  • +40% of professionals work at companies with 250+ employees
  • +11% of professionals work at companies with 50,000+ employees

This year professionals from across the globe engaged with the Publishers and content within the RevResponse Publisher Network. As a matter of fact 99.9% of the world’s countries were represented in the Audience Geo list this year, 99.9%! To help you visualize the exposure, this map shows every country included in the RevResponse Audience Geo list this year, the legend showing the countries by request volume:



Takeaway: Decision-makers from the world’s top companies are looking for content online – help them find it by joining a Publisher Network with an impressive content database and platform.

2015 Reflection

Publishers had a huge opportunity in 2015 to take on content and maximize monetization efforts. The RevResponse Network took on the challenge and succeeded, increasing overall audience engagement by 30% year-over-year. The trends include winning strategies from the past (email) and newcomers taking over (native advertising). As you finalize your strategy for 2016 and determine where you want to focus PLEASE consider: content, email, and native advertising – but most of all focus on delivering value to your audience.

This article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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