As we step into 2014, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal readers and summit attendees for helping to make this an amazing year for both iMedia and our industry at large. As senior vice president of iMedia Communications, I've had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with many of you at our events, but there are many of you whom I have yet to meet. To that end, I'd encourage you to connect with me and the team at iMedia this year to explore the vast opportunities, both at events and on iMedia Connection, that we have to move your businesses and this industry forward.
Moving into the new year, we at iMedia are excitedly watching the continued evolution of our dynamic industry and will continue to bring you regular trend analyses. Today, digital is at the core of marketing, and the continued convergence of the industry, combined with the emergence of altogether new models, is yielding new opportunities for marketers every day.
Going into 2014, all eyes at iMedia are on the exciting -- albeit uncertain -- future of content. Most marketers are aware of the importance of content to their strategies, but few are aware of just how big this sector has grown. An estimated $118 billion was spent on content marketing, video marketing, and social media in 2013. According to eMarketer, ad spending on sponsored content is growing faster than originally predicted, with marketers spending $1.9 billion on sponsored content this year (up 24 percent over 2012) and devoting an estimated $3.2 billion to sponsored content by 2017.
Spending aside, contention remains around the topic of content marketing, particularly with regard to the rise of native advertising. Although the IAB has tried to stay ahead of the matter by releasing a native advertising playbook, a recent FTC workshop examining native advertising ended inconclusively, with one FTC official admitting that testimony from interested parties had "raised more questions than it answered." The ever-quotable Bob Garfield delivered one of the strongest attacks against native advertising, calling it "a conspiracy of deception, a hustle, a racket, a grift." He went on to add, "With every transaction, publishers are mining and exporting a rare resource: trust. Those deals will not save the media industry. They will, in a matter of years, destroy the media industry: one boatload of shit at a time."
In light of both the great opportunity and uncertainty surrounding content marketing and its various manifestations, iMedia has decided to launch its first-ever iMedia Content Summit in March. In addition to branded content creation, the event will delve deeply into topics surrounding social media content dissemination, the increasingly blurring lines between brands and publishers, and the continued convergence of TV and video. We hope to see you at the event or one of our many other exciting 2014 summits.
Until then, best wishes from your family at iMedia!
SVP, iMedia Communications