What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly* round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)

IAB publishes content marketing primer
Set up simultaneously with its native advertising task force (see below), the IAB’s content marketing task force has produced a content marketing primer. It is by no means sexy or compelling for content marketing practitioners, but it does give them a succinct, 6-page tool to explain the basics of content marketing (as well as a tacit endorsement from the IAB) for stakeholders.

IAB drops native advertising playbook same day as FTC workshop
With impeccable timing, the IAB’s native advertising task force issued its native advertising playbook the same day that the United States Federal Trade Commission planned to hold a workshop on the topic. The playbook provided the necessary no-brainer argument for complete transparency, and otherwise mere guidance on how different types of native advertising work. A member of the IAB committee told me: “Think the product of the IAB findings is that there is no least common denominator in native, which is a great outcome as it allows the field to grow to maximize for end-user satisfaction.” Hallelujah.

Legal precedence around native advertising
Publishers’ and marketers’ fascination or revulsion for native advertising has created more heat than light around the topic, but this piece adds value to perspectives on the tactic: Specifically, a partner at the law firm of BakerHostetler provides a quick overview of the legal issues around native advertising. Most interesting? The possibility that some branded content may get broader first amendment protections if it is in the “public interest” and not just “commercial speech”.

The future of the (content) marketing professional
CEB and LinkedIn each pushed out some data and analysis on how marketers’ skills (and particularly their content skills) need to evolve. From the former: “79% of marketers consider content marketing important; yet only 12% feel ready to deliver against it.” LinkedIn reported on the rise of content marketing titles in its own data: “The number of content professionals on LinkedIn has increased…33% since October 2011.”

Custom Content Council: More spending on content
Little surprise here as the survey from a content champion shows 80% of marketers anticipate a moderate or aggressive shift in spending toward content marketing. Some back of the napkin analysis of their own figures suggest that respondents spent an average of just under $1 million per year on content marketing personnel (52% of their total budget). That’s a lot of FTEs.

The results of analyzing 24 billion subject lines
MailChimp released the results from its own exhaustive analysis of email marketing performance against subject line copy. Interestingly, they found that people are far more likely to open emails from the government if the subject line included their name (and significantly less likely if the personalized subject line was from a law firm). And we’re more likely to open emails labeled as “urgent” than “alert”.

Our decks are getting shorter, more succinct and more shouty
Slideshare’s annual review of the content uploaded to its site reveals a few trends: Presentations are shorter (avg. ~18 slides in 2012 to ~14 in 2013), feature less copy (41 words per slide in 2012 to 29 in 2013) and saw fonts and images grow in size, 58% and 16% respectively. Interestingly, the year’s most popular deck was long, and featured a fair amount of tiny copy. What's going on behind the scenes here? Slideshare’s an increasingly important repository for infographics.

#Hashtags, CAPS and exclamation points do drive retweets
In the third of compelling analyses of own data (after MailChimp and Slideshare), Track Maven analyzed some 1.7 million tweets to find patterns that drive retweets. Some of the better stuff here: 1) tweets with at least one #hashtag were retweeted twice as much as those without, 2) Tweets with pictures were retweeted at 3x the rate of tweets without, and 3) The more exclamation points in a tweet, the more frequently it was retweeted. How about that?!!!!!!!!!

Google+ and twitter extend social content advertising plays
As social networks and content marketing mature together, they’re finding new ways to play together. In the same week, twitter and Google each announced ways for marketers to package and target social advertising. Twitter introduced Targeted Audiences, which allows marketers to push promoted tweets to users against their surfing activity across the web. And Google will allow brand advertisers on Google+ to turn their posts into ads on third-party sites.

Content marketing agencies across borders
Content marketing across borders (or, more accurately, across languages) was always going to put the brakes on demanding content marketing plans. Two agencies seem to believe that alliances where strategy is shared, but execution occurs locally is the best model (and they’re looking for more partners in other markets).

Content marketing of the Fortnight: Holiday edition
The holidays brings marketers’ and agencies’ pet projects out of the shadows, and (given the bizarre holiday atmosphere) sometimes also get the nod for production. Century21’s Tryptophan Slow Jam is unlike any content marketing execution that I’ve ever seen (and from a realtor no less). The Game’s Christmas Tinner executes a visual joke succinctly, beautifully and very on-strategy. Finally, the Santa Brand Book would have to have been the most viral piece of content marketing this holiday season – at least, based on evidence from my own feeds.

Past Content Marketing Fortnights

Content Marketing Fortnight IV: Some content marketing insecurity
Content Marketing Fortnight III: On acquisitions, trust and beauty
Content Marketing Fortnight II: Advertising is…unclear
Content Marketing Fortnight I

*Some fortnight followers may have noted that the updates have been a little less than…fortnightly.