Once you scale beyond a couple contributors and teams, it gets messy.”
– Content marketing leader at Intel

That’s as succinct a summary as you’ll get for the pains of contemporary content marketing. Even as marketers flock to it, experienced practitioners know of content marketing’s side effect:  An unmitigated mess, with lots of people producing piles of content all at the same time, all over the world.

Cue the Content Marketing Platform, or CMP. CMPs emerged to bring order to this cross-channel, cross-organizational, cross-brand, cross-geography, cross-everything content mess, by putting all the people working on content in to a common and shared space.

It’s against this relatively nascent CMP category that we just published a Forrester Wave report.

[Editorial note: Forrester publishes approx. 50-60 wave reports per year, or about one per week on average. Of those, only about a dozen each year are entirely new. This is one of the latter.]

The CMPs assessed in this report – Contently, DivvyHQ, Kapost, NewsCred, Oracle, Percolate, PublishThis, RebelMouse, and Skyword – can cite content marketing giants as part of their client list like: GE, Pepsi, Marriott, BlackRock, IBM, Dell, Diageo, Unilever, MasterCard, and Colgate-Palmolive. And they are picking up new ones relentlessly; as a group, they’re doubling software revenue year after year.

To pin down exactly what CMPs do, here is Forrester’s definition:

Content marketing platforms are solutions that help marketing teams collaborate on a content strategy, orchestrate the numerous, concurrent streams of activity by content creators, curators, and distributors inside and outside of the company, and optimize downstream cross-channel distribution to key audiences.

These platforms do not replace software like content management, customer relationship or social media management – the vast majority of CMP users also use those technologies. For the report we broke CMP functionality into four key buckets:

  • Content marketing management: Access & oversight for internal/external participants
  • Content planning: Customer-driven cues for which content should be made or curated
  • Content production: Staying on top of sources, topics, editing, approvals and translations
  • Content distribution: Pushing content to downstream channels like web, email or social

Our overarching assessment: Most CMP users love their CMP. Degrees of integration, however, vary wildly vendor to vendor.

Our conclusion: CMPs are on the way in and up. But the category’s final success depends less on “content marketers” than on rank and file marketers (and even those outside of the marketing department) adopting CMPs as de facto content production, approval, planning and distribution hubs.