Content marketing in 2024: Anchor your efforts on these core principles

Content marketing in 2024: Anchor your efforts on these core principles

The word “deluge” has been top of mind for me lately. The past year has seen heavy rains and recurring flood risk in New York City. It’s also seen a different kind of flood risk, posed by AI-generated content.

A 2022 Europol report warned that “as much as 90 percent of online content may be synthetically generated—meaning generated or manipulated by AI—by 2026.” 

As of early 2024, there were an estimated 1.9 billion websites and 600 million blogs on the internet. An estimated 7.5 million blog posts are published daily. To overtake that activity would be a deluge of biblical proportions. And digital publishing will likely accelerate from here. 

It’s likely that much of this content will languish in the ether, adding to the 96% of online content that currently gets 0 traffic from Google. In anticipation of the flood, Google has made explicit its intent to penalize “scaled content abuse”—recognizing that a high volume of content with “little to no value” is likely spam. This is the first time they’ve taken aim at the impending onslaught of derivative content.

Google has made explicit its intent to penalize “scaled content abuse”—recognizing that a high volume of content with “little to no value” is likely spam.

Of course, Google is not the ultimate or only arbiter of good vs. bad content on the internet. Much of what’s worth reading online are stories that don’t target a search keyword. 

But Google does have a powerful voice in determining what information people find, and the digital content ecosystem is inextricably tied to their decisions. I’m heartened by the action the search giant has taken in the last 18 months to better align their evaluation criteria with a thoughtful reader’s values. (Cheers to you, helpful content update!) 

Looking ahead, it seems all but certain that search will move towards a more conversational experience—in which Google’s chatbot gobbles up information and synthesizes it into an AI-generated answer to your queries. To create this experience, some content will certainly become a commoditized input. But I hope—and expect—that Google will play an important role in ensuring that humans continue to have access to human voices, stories, and intelligence when searching for information online. 

The way forward

A flooded content landscape is daunting for brands, a feeling perhaps compounded by decades of wading through seas (although shallow in comparison) of clickbait, sensationalized listicles, and other useless content. 

Having witnessed several eras of content marketing—including the rise and fall of native advertising, spon-con, microsites, and (my personal favorite) branded magazines—I can tell you one thing with confidence: a few core principles hold true. 

  • Humans want to connect with other humans through storytelling. We always have and we always will. Brands can take part in the storytelling ecosystem, but they must do it in a way that is genuinely human, prioritizing connection over transactions. 
  • Good content that provides genuine value to a reader—unique insight, utility, delightfulness, or emotional connection—will win attention. 
  • Writers rooms exist for a reason. When creating a piece of content, multiple brains (and multiple points of view, each informed by unique lived experiences) are better than one. 
  • What works now won’t work forever. Formats come and go in popularity; algorithms change over time. Flexibility is essential for enduring brands. 

At Moonlight, we anchor our work to these principles, and have structured our operating model to deliver on them.

Moonlight has always been underpinned by the idea that what’s published on the internet matters.

What does this look like in practice? It boils down to four key attributes:

  1. A diverse network of freelance writers, each of whom maintains a thoughtful and rigorous creative process in their work—detailed in this article by one of our favorite writers and veteran collaborators, Cassandra Landry. The caliber and breadth of our network, which also includes strategists, designers, and illustrators, allows us to be versatile in our offerings and help our clients get to market quickly. 
  2. A seasoned core team who identifies and matches the best creative talent for your project. Our Senior Managing Editor Thomas Harlander—who’s also applied his eye for great writing at Los Angeles magazine and MasterClass—details what we look for in writers in this article
  3. A briefing process that sets our writers up for success before they ever put pen to paper. We’ve created what feels like a zillion briefs in our four years of operation, which has allowed us to refine our process for creating them to a science—while still allowing for the art of tailoring to the project specifics. Our Head of Marketing and Client Experience Robbie Guevarra walks through our approach to briefs in this article.
  4. A team of credentialed freelance editors who act as thought partners to our writers and ensure integrity of work. Creating great content is not a one-person job. It takes a village—or, at the very least, a duo. Editors are the “other half” of written work, and we believe that the quality of our (or any content team’s) output is inextricably tied to the caliber of the editors. We asked Kate Ryan, one of our longstanding editors—and published writer herself—to dive deep on the editing process in this article

Moonlight has always been underpinned by the idea that what’s published on the internet matters—that when done right, it can deliver meaningful impact to readers and businesses alike. Faced with an imminent deluge of synthetic content, this reason for being has never felt more immediate. 

If you’re thinking about how to stand out and capture your audience’s attention amid the flood, reach out. We love to chat about the future (and present!) of content—no hard sell involved.

Mallory Farrugia is a content strategy leader, SEO expert, and seasoned book editor. Prior to founding Moonlight, Mallory built publishing teams and full-stack content marketing programs at scale for MasterClass, WeWork, and Medium, while moonlighting as the editor of multiple anthologies and art books.


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