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The Edge.Email  #33

Welcome to the weekly newsletter from The Edge Group. The goal of each edition is to help you think differently about B2B content. If you know anyone who might enjoy this email, please have them sign up here.


1. AI

Natural Language Generation

Augmented writing is a learning loop for words

We’ve often touched on the subject of natural language generation, and the folks at Textio just published a very comprehensible look at the concept of “augmented writing”.

The piece in conjunction with a new product release of their’s that you can see in action below.


2. BOOKS

Falling in love with ebooks

We noticed a number of content strategy Twitter folks sharing a link to “The Elements of Content Strategy” by Erin Kissane. It’s an eight-year old, incredibly well-written take on the subject that’s available for free download.

Unlike so much of content marketing-related literature, this is not one of those “5 freaking genius content ideas you can steal from Buzzfeed” type articles. It reads much more like something from the Harvard Business Review…but even more enjoyable.

We also noticed how web and mobile friendly this “book” format was, which led us to discovering A Book Apart. It’s “a publisher of brief books for people who make websites” and kind of feels like if Medium.com metamorphosed into a physical-digital hybrid being.


3. STATS

Good Clickbait

Yes, we just disparaged clickbait-y content marketing content. And now we’re going to link to “25 Useful Content Marketing Stats That Are Actually Credible”. But it’s all about balance in curation; the yin of in-depth, longform ebooks with the yang of snackable stats below.

Here are a few numbers from the piece:

  • 98 percent of senior marketers believe having a content strategy is important for their success, but only 55 percent have a documented strategy.
  • 50 percent of brands believe that paid content distribution is critical to their success. However, only 40 percent are confident in their ability to effectively measure the results of their content distribution.
  • 56 percent of people trust brands over traditional media and news outlets.
  • 67 percent of companies devote less than a quarter of their marketing budgets to content.

4. SERVICE

Telling Better Data Stories

This was a very cool research project from Stanford.

Using the “right” colors in a graph can make rapidly improve the time for someone to understand the data. A simple example is, if you were graphing the sales of fruit, you would use red for apples and yellow for bananas.

The fancy term for this is “semantically-resonant colors for data visualization”.

The full paper is here, and the Stanford folks created a Color Assigner toolwhere you can enter objects and it scans Google Images for the term to tell you the most relevant color. There was also this 2014 HBR paper on the subject, “The Right Colors Make Data Easier to Read”.

Note — all of these items were from a series of tweets from Ethan Mollick.


5. CREATIVE

Fruit Flies and Goldfish

Yes, the internet is destroying our collective attention span (Vox):

Some data on our collective attention:

The length of time our “collective attention” is on any given event has grown shorter, and topics become popular and then drop out of public view at an accelerating rate.”

They measured collective attention on Twitter by looking at how long individual hashtags stayed in the list of 50 most popular hashtags. In 2013, they remained, on average, for 17.5 hours. In 2016, that was reduced to 11.9 hours.

This also reminded us of that incredible “What captured America’s attention in 2018” visual from Axios back in January.


Edge on the Town

The Edge.Email is probably not your high-fashion, cool-kid resource. But we did love this collaboration (we’re still not hip enough to use “collab”) which brought together high fashion, 3D Printing, and a major industrial corporation.

From the Met Gala:

Ms. Dunn, a model, arrived at the Met Gala in a 30-pound dress made of large plastic petals, designed by Zac Posen and General Electric Additive and built by Protolabs. Each petal weighs about a pound and appears, on its own, rather naturalistic.


6. A NEWSLETTER

Many readers of this newsletter are probably familiar with Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources newsletter. It’s the ultimate insiders take on the media industry, and as comprehensive a roundup of links as you can find.

One note: We often have clients worry about the length of their emails. The average word count over the past month of Brian Stelter newsletters has been a staggering 3,134 words, almost double the ~1,500 words per Axios newsletter we found in a study last year.

It’s an important reminder that very long emails are not bad…..if they’re good.

Subscribe Here


7. A VIDEO

If you have ever, for even a brief moment, doubted the power of content, we will place your misgivings to rest. A former Netflix creative director managedto raise $1.6 million for….canned water.

Mike Cessario worked on promotions for shows like House of Cards, Narcos and Stranger Things. He brought that content know-how to an insane branding campaign that somehow makes water “punk”. The first commercial is below.

While this had some at Edge HQ convinced it was an elaborate hoax, Americans did spend $18.5 billion on bottled water in 2017……