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NewsCred Raises $25 Million to Fill a Content-Marketing War Chest. (What's Content Marketing Again?)

And who are they fighting?

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Advertisers have spent the last few years toiling away in the social media fields, and now have long lists of followers on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to show for their efforts.

New problem: Finding something to say to those followers.

If that doesn’t sound like a problem to you, then maybe you’re like me and spend way too much time blurting stuff out. But apparently this a puzzler that stumps lots of brands, because we’ve seen a crop of companies designed to solve the problem show up in the last couple years.

Now NewsCred, one of the first “content marketing” startups, has raised a $25 million funding round led by InterWest partners. This follows a $15 million round the company announced last March and brings the company’s total funding to $45 million since 2008.

For the record, I asked CEO Shafqat Islam if some of this money came via secondary sales, and whether founders/early employees/early investors took some money off the table, and he declined to answer. So you can go ahead and assume that this is so. But Islam said a lot of the money will go toward expanding his sales team, both in New York and London.

And he also said he thinks he’ll use some of it to consolidate some of the other players in the content marketing industry. Those folks are also raising money, by the way: Earlier this month Contently announced it had raised $9 million so it could fight in the “content arms race“.

But wait a minute. What is content marketing again, and why is it a thing people are fighting over?

Easy version: Content marketing supposedly fills a new need advertisers have to say … something to their constituency, by helping those companies source and choose … content.

This stuff often comes from traditional publishers, who are happy to make extra money be reselling stuff they’ve already published. And companies like NewsCred are now paying writers and other content-makers to make stuff for them from scratch; NewsCred’s payments start at $500 a blog post.

You can see examples of the work NewsCred does on sites like the ones it helps stock with content for Pepsi and Sprint.

At a minimum, all of this effort seems like a not-bad thing for publishers, writers, photographers, etc., who may be watching the traditional market for their stuff contract. If NewsCred, or Contently, or Percolate, or Starcom MediaVest, etc. can help them find more buyers for their stuff, then I’m all for that.

I do wonder if this is a market that grows beyond a certain size, though. Especially if marketers decide that they ought to spend most of their time and money pushing their messages the way they always have, via traditional ad platforms.

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