‘Content Marketing’ is a term that has to evolve.

Calling every marketing video that doesn’t feel like a TV commercial, ‘content marketing’, does not add clarity.

The term “content marketing” is used in the same manner and frequency as the term ‘viral video.” Everyone gets the idea, but it’s used in such a haphazard, jargony way that it’s become virtually useless (at least when defining different types of marketing video.)

Content marketing refers to brands creating and sharing useful information. It’s difficult to get agreement on anything beyond this basic definition.

Back in 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto told us that sharing knowledge and having human conversations are what matter. Markets were becoming ‘conversations’ and brands were going to have to start listening, instead of yelling at people.

At around the same time, Seth Godin introduced his landmark book ‘Permission Marketing‘ which recognized that consumers, because of the internet, had the power to grant permission to brands to communicate with them.

Ever since, brands have had to learn to talk in a more human voice and to present things of interest and value to potential customers in order to earn their attention.

The idea behind ‘Content Marketing’ is a good one. (Businesses need to turn their focus from themselves to their customers and provide them with valuable information to get their attention.)

The problem is that today everybody is calling everything ‘content marketing’. That doesn’t help anyone (except for the swelling mass of “content experts”.)

“Content” is a non-specific label. ‘useful information’ is much better.  ‘Content’ has as much descriptive value as the word ‘stuff.’  (Click here to see the 20 Best Examples of Stuff Marketing in Your Industry!)

Google ‘content marketing’ and you’ll discover a jumble of disparate lists, definitions, best practices and support groups.

Everyone knows what ‘marketing’ is. Nobody really understands or can agree on what “content” is. New labels should clarify, not obfuscate.

/end of rant.

So here’s my suggestion:

Be specific. Use terms that are clear and understandable and that have an origin in the marketing discipline they refer to.

I suggest these three labels for specific types of marketing video, all previously referred to as  “video content marketing:”

  1. Branded Informational Videos: Any video whose primary purpose is to convey valuable knowledge or information that is not brand focused to the viewer and is supported by subtle branding.
  2. Branded Mini-Docs:  Any video that provides a non-brand focused factual story or report that is supported in some way by modest product placement or subtle branding.
  3. Branded Entertainment:  Any video whose primary purpose is to entertain that is supported in some way by modest product placement or subtle branding.

What do all three of these video types have in common? They are all not specifically brand focused. They are focused on issues, stories, activities and information that is valuable, useful or relevant to the viewer.


Jimm Fox


Jimm has been working in video and marketing for the last 25 years agency side, client side and in video production.

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