Add Thesis

The Confusion of Content Marketing

A study to clarify the key dimensions of content marketing

Written by A. Claesson, A. Jonsson

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Thesis: The history of content marketing The concept of content marketing has existed for more than one hundred years (Pulizzi, 2013). The first example of content marketing was the magazine called The Furrow published in 1895 (Pulizzi, 2013; Gardiner, 2013). John Deere is behind the magazine. He founded The Furrowwere to introduce farmers to new technologies through stories they care about, rather than directly selling equipment (Nosrati, Karimi, Mohammadi, and Malekian, 2013). This shows that The Furrow is full of informative articles that attract a clearly defined target audience instead of focusing on sales (Pulizzi, 2013). Another example of early content marketing is the Michelin Guide published by André Michelin in 1900 (Pulizzi, 2013; Patrutiu Baltes, 2015). The first edition of the guide distributed more than 350,000 copies to drivers free of charge. The Michelin Guide contains information on how drivers maintain their cars, find hotels, etc. (Pulizzi, 2013). This example also focuses on providing information to the target audience rather than selling products or services (Patrutiu Baltes, 2015). The third example is the 1904 recipe Jell-O (Nosrati, Karimi, Mohammadi and Malekian, 2013). Jell-O distributed free copies of the recipes, which contained recipes on how to use its products. Two years later, Jell-O's product sales exceeded US$1 million (Patrutiu Baltes, 2015). This shows that the company uses content marketing to inform their customers how they can use their products, which ultimately leads to sales. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the first stories about content marketing appeared, the term content marketing did not exist (Pulizzi, 2013). According to Patrutiu Baltes (2015), the term content marketing was first proposed by John F. Oppedahl in 1996 at the Association of Newspaper Editors in the United States, where he led a roundtable of journalists. However, according to Du Plessis (2015), the term content marketing was not used until digital marketing appeared to allow companies to use pull marketing strategies. Pulizziand Barrett (2008) proposed the first definition of conceptual content marketing. Pulizzi later proposed a lot of updated definitions and more descriptions of conceptual content marketing (Holliman & Rowley, 2014; Pulizzi, 2013). Until 2014, Holliman and Rowley conducted their first academic research, focusing on the digital field of content marketing. Before their research, it was just a survey and book produced by a well-known marketing research organization in the digital field of content marketing (Holliman & Rowley, 2014). 3.2 Definition of content marketing Content marketing is a marketing strategy with many names. Examples of names according to Pulizzi (2013) include: custom media, branded content, inbound marketing, brand storytelling, and so on. The definition of content marketing varies from author to author and is very confusing because there is no universally accepted definition (Holliman & Rowley, 2014). However, most researchers and practitioners agree that content marketing and inbound marketing are described as the same strategy (Du Plessis, 2015; Holliman and Rowley, 2014; Pulizzi, 2013; Järvinen and Taiminen, 2016). In addition, in Table 3.2-Definition of Content Marketing, some researchers and practitioners have different definitions of content marketing. Table 3.2-The definitions of content marketing are different, and there are some differences that make it difficult for people to understand what content marketing means (Holliman & Rowley, 2014). The first definition of content marketing in the table above was proposed by Pulizzi (2013) in his book called Epic Content Marketing. His definition is very similar to the CMI (2017) definition of content marketing in the introduction of this paper, but Pulizzi's definition is more specific. This is why it is used in Table 3.2-Definition of Content Marketing when comparing different definitions. Since Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI, 2017), the similarities are not unexpected. Both definitions emphasize the importance of creating and distributing valuable content to attract a clearly defined audience in order to achieve profitable customer behavior. The second definition in Table 3.2-Rowley (2008)'s definition of content marketing is very different from Pulizzi (2013)'s definition of content marketing. Rowley (2008) emphasized in her definition that content marketing is “meeting customer needs for profit” through electronic channels. However, Pulizzi (2013) mentions the profit goal of customer behavior rather than gaining profit, which can easily be misunderstood as sales. These two definitions refer to a profit perspective pointing in the same direction. Pulizzi (2013) does not use the term electronic channels in the definition of content marketing. According to the definition of Patrutiu Baltes (2015), whouses CMI (2015), content must be in the digital market to compete with other brands. However, content marketing exists in many forms, such as print or electronic magazines, newsletters, videos, podcasts, etc. (Pulizzi, 2012; Patrutiu Baltes, 2015). This shows that content marketing not only exists in electronic channels, but the definition of content marketing is also quite different. Read Less