Thursday February 2nd || by Sean Surdovel

Twenty-seventeen. It sounds so futuristic, but here we are. A New Year, full of endless possibilities. 2016 is in the rear view and I, for one, couldn’t be more glad to see it go. Don’t get me wrong. There was plenty of good, but between the deaths of beloved artists, contentious and endless political debates, and some of the biggest missed opportunities in comic book movie history, 2016 had plenty of terrible things going on.

The same can be said of content discovery. There are plenty of great things happening here at Taboola to be excited about, and as a Content Strategist I have a front row seat to a lot of it. Every day I find reason to nerd-out and dive down the content discovery rabbit-hole, but while 2016 was a great year for content discovery, there were also a few things that I’m going to be very glad to put behind us, especially where Performance Marketing is concerned.

Here are four terrible performance marketing trends from 2016 that I hope we can all resolve to leave in the past, and learn from, for a fresh and exciting 2017!

Writing Copycat Content

content discovery campaigns

Putting this at number one on my list isn’t going to win me any new friends, but sometimes it’s my job to play bad cop. We see that whenever one advertiser hits on a successful layout or narrative, others will follow suit for their own products.

Don’t get me wrong, I get why—who doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of successful people—but by copying a strategy, we see more often than not that it’s effectiveness is diluted, because the user feels like it’s something they’ve seen before.

Advertisers could be more successful by hypothesizing why a piece of content is successful, and using that knowledge to create something new and innovative that appeals to the same user behaviors that drive a successful content discovery campaign.

Making Mobile an Afterthought

content discovery campaigns

You’re probably reading about this in every ‘advertising trends to look for in 2017’ article, but the truth is that if you aren’t thinking mobile-first, you’re already in the dust.

2016 was the year that Mobile Devices overtook Desktop as our biggest source of clicks at 52%, yet only about a third of performance advertising budgets were actually dedicated to mobile. Too often I hear the phrase ‘mobile just doesn’t back out for us’ as a justification for shutting it off, but the truth is, we aren’t allowing the differences in how users engage with mobile vs. desktop platforms to shape how we create our content.

Sometimes, it’s not enough to slap your top-performing creative from desktop on a mobile-responsive layout. It’s a great start, but does it capture the user’s attention? Does it account for how the user is engaging with apps and other forms of content on their device? Actually considering those factors, especially in industries like eCommerce, can empower us to create great mobile-first content and unlock an all-too-often overlooked opportunity.

Treating Video and Text Content as the Same Thing

content discovery campaigns

I thought long and hard about how to put this one on the list, because video content is a huge opportunity for 2017, but in 2016 I saw it misused often. The truth is, not all content is created equal in the user’s eye, and video presents a unique set of challenges.

Beyond creating an interesting and engaging video, it’s important to make users feel like they are still in control of their content consumption. Autoplay videos are great sales tools—but it’s best to let the user know to expect it, so that their mobile device doesn’t start unexpectedly blasting sound from a bathroom stall.

Give the user a reason to stick around for your sales pitch, and give them a way to cut-to-the-chase if they’re strapped for time. The more the user feels in control of video (and sound!) consumption, the more open they’ll be when it’s time to make your pitch.

Avoiding Misdirection

content discovery campaigns

Our CEO has written about this in more detail, but it’s never a good idea to tell the user they’re getting one thing, when the truth is something entirely different.

Users don’t react well to discovering that they’ve been duped. Be open with users about the content they’re about to consume, provide value, and save the misdirection for your Saturday night magicians’ gatherings.

And with all that off my chest, I wish you all a bright and bountiful 2017. Let’s agree that there are some things better left in the past, and work together to make 2017 a happy one for content marketers!

Taboola is the world’s leading content discovery platform, serving 360B recommendations to over 1B unique visitors each month on the web’s most innovative publisher sites. To find out how we can support your next discovery campaign, contact us or start your campaign now.

Sean Surdovel

Sean Surdovel is a Content Strategist at Taboola, helping to research and define best practices and optimizing content strategy for brand and performance advertisers. In his free time, Sean is a musician, bicycling enthusiast, and avid reader of comic books.