many birthday candles

The attendees of this year’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland saw a different kind of conference from years past. And it wasn't the fact that Nick Offerman’s keynote included a dirty song about his wife, although that was a conference first for me. It wasn’t that there was a long overdue focus on how intelligent, data driven content should inform the storytelling process. While not unique to this year, it was refreshing to see it featured more prominently.

This year there were products — lots of products. Marketing automation products; editorial products; analytics products; even a product that apparently injects hallucinogens into your email. Product showcases at conferences, including CMWorld, obviously aren’t new or unique, but they can (and in this case do) signal a maturation or change in a sector or market. They signal an expansion of an event focused on techniques for problem solving to an event focused on techniques and services for problem solving. They signal a growing industry that software vendors and solution providers have taken note of.

With that in mind, we thought it might be helpful to put together a list of some of the innovative new products, services and even companies that we saw at Content Marketing World. Basically, we went to the booths so you don’t have to.

Opening the Content Marketing Floodgates

Before we get started …

Is this list comprehensive? It depends on your definition. While the folks over at the Content Marketing Institute did help me put the list together, I’m sure we missed a product or two. Further, some curation had to happen based on things like release date and value definition for example. That said, if I missed an awesome product or a can’t miss feature, throw it in the comments. We would love to hear about it.

Also, these are in no particular order. We thought to categorize them, but when features and products are so new, their core value is often yet to be realized. For example, is this a product designed to optimize content production or measure its efficacy? As we will talk about later, it’s hard to tell. Often companies deliberately make it more not less difficult. So instead of categorizing, we decided to curate.

With that in mind, in no particular order...

Crescendo

This is an offshoot of Percussion CMS, a lightweight tool that developed a niche in the academic and local government space. Crescendo attempts to leverage the Percussion feature set to create an authoring system that reacts to data. The tool is very early stage, but really shines with it’s Salesforce integration, basically telling authors how leads interact with content and suggesting ways to optimize new content efforts. For those still married to the PDF, it also has a very feature rich browser-based PDF viewer that feeds a robust data set directly into Salesforce. 

While the authoring environment is a bit siloed — it seems to have a very basic Wordpress integration and nothing else — one would imagine expanded integrations are baked into their roadmap. For a product that is less than six months old, it is visually slick and stable. It’s worth keeping an eye on as integration opportunities become available.

LicenseStream

Wright’s Media’s acquisition of LicenseStream isn’t exactly news as it happened over a year ago. However, it is a good example of a company that is attempting to blur the line between consultative service providers and product developers. 

For those not familiar, LicenseStream is basically the Getty Images of content licensing. It streamlines the licensing process for both buyer and seller and represents a robust trend in the content licensing industry. For the most part, it seems that Wright’s has left LicenseStream in tact, which is probably a good thing. It’s a stable, trusted brand and product. However, there is a great deal of synergy between the product and Wright’s service offerings, and I would imagine this is the beginning of a larger suite being developed. It is easy to imagine that Wright’s Media will appear in next year’s list as well.

Appinions

Appinions is also not a new product, but it was recently acquired by ScribbleLive which leveraged a $35 million expansion round. This clearly shows some foresight, and it would appear that the acquisition signals a new direction for the SaaS live publishing platform. Appinions’ natural language insights give marketers the opportunity to not only publish content quickly and easily but to make sure that content is robust, targeted and relevant. This could also mature ScribbleLive from an event or campaign based tool to an integrated strategic part of an enterprise.

Storylift

This LoudDoor spinoff enables users to boost or “lift” earned content to a targeted audiences using social media feeds. Storylift leverages LoudDoor’s survey based audience targeting to enable marketers to easily build social sharing campaigns quickly and affordably. By asking a series of basic audience qualifying questions, campaigns can be built and launched in just a few minutes (literally 10 to 15 minutes) at a price point that is very attractive to the small to medium enterprise. So when you see this article come across your Twitter feed a month from now, it may very well have been powered by a minor investment in Storylift.

Zignal Labs Command Center

Zignal Labs’ amplification analytics platform provides real time share of voice and sentiment data around boolean search terms. Earlier this month, it launched a command center product appropriately named, Command Center. It is designed to facilitate event based content marketing teams in order to react to situational data on the fly. For example, the eccentrically chosen Lionel Richie walk-up music in the sixth inning of the World Series could result in viral content based on data rather than luck and unrealistic story telling skills. The platform itself is robust, but the ability to create mobile command centers is an aspect of content marketing that has not been fully explored.

All Things to All People

Finally, as conference founders Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi spoke of in one of their recent podcasts, many of the companies in attendance are trying to significantly expand their services (and by default revenue) as they take on the funding available to a mature business sector. As a result, we saw a bit of an “all things to all people” syndrome. This is not necessarily bad, as it can fuel innovation and paradigm shift. However, it did make differentiating new from old, innovation from rebrand, and core functionality from box checking a bit difficult. 

Look for that trend to continue over the next year and don’t be surprised if next year’s list of launches has similar names under consolidated umbrellas. It is a necessary byproduct of a welcomed sector maturation. It’s a great time to be a content marketer and Content Marketing World was a great event to showcase innovation.

Note: Thanks to Cheray Marie, Sr. Content Strategist with Razorfish, for her research and editorial assistance with this piece.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Peter