New Report Shows Spending on Content Marketing Climbing Sharply | About the ANA | ANA

New Report Shows Spending on Content Marketing Climbing Sharply

Marketers Embracing Discipline Despite Reservations About Measurement, ROI

NEW YORK (July 14, 2020) — Advertisers are embracing content marketing more than ever, despite having misgivings about the lack of accurate and insightful measurement of its effectiveness, according to a new study from the ANA in partnership with The Content Council.

The study, “Growth and Opportunities in Content Marketing,” was conducted in 2019 and revealed that over a two-year period, spending on content marketing showed a 73 percent average budget increase. The report also projected a 42 percent spending hike two years in the future.

Respondents showed their commitment to content marketing has grown substantially over the past two years, with 52 percent indicating a “strong commitment” — double the figure from two years prior (26 percent). Content marketing also commands a substantial portion (18 percent) of overall marketing budgets, according to respondents’ current estimates of total spending.

The study defined content marketing as “the discipline of creating content, on behalf of a brand, designed with the specific strategy of influencing the intended target audience to drive quantifiable profitable results.”

“It’s clear from this important study that content marketing has become, in a very short time, a major tool for marketers seeking to engage consumers in new and different ways,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “It’s proof that a majority of advertisers are willing to experiment with and embrace longer forms of messaging to connect with their constituents.”

Despite their increased reliance on content marketing, a majority (59 percent) of respondents expressed misgivings about a lack of actionable insights derived from current tracking methods in determining the effectiveness of content marketing activity.

“Since content marketing’s inception, it has been difficult to track, and often prove, its ROI,” the study said. “Effective measurement continues to be a pain point for marketers who must justify larger content investments.”

For example, when asked which aspects of content marketing were the most frustrating for respondents, the top three responses touched on proving ROI, improving attribution, and overall measurement.

Another disconnect revealed in the report showed that only 35 percent of respondents said they have a clearly documented content strategy; 52 percent said they do not, while 13 percent said they were unsure. Not surprisingly, respondents with a clearly documented content strategy were twice as likely to report a positive outlook on the future of content marketing as opposed to those operating without a strategy.

“Get ready for Content Marketing 2.0,” said Jacqueline Loch, chair of The Content Council. “With 42 percent growth in content spending predicted over the next two years and the acceleration of consumer digital transformation, there is an exceptional opportunity for agency and publisher partners to help brands to deliver on content needs and to set the path for data interpretation.”

The report also showed:

  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of content marketing services are handled internally. The amount of work outsourced — 37 percent — is relatively stable but growing.
  • Marketers are driving the process in most areas of content marketing and are primarily responsible for strategy, technology, measurement, and analytics.
  • Agencies have significant responsibility for development and production and distribution. However, collaborative efforts between marketers and agencies are still key in all areas of content marketing.
  • All respondents reported relying on at least one agency partner to assist with content marketing initiatives. Advertising agencies were most consistently used across tasks, with other agency types being utilized depending on specific areas of expertise.

The 2019 survey included 126 responses, of which 90 percent were client-side marketers, with the remaining 10 percent coming from academia, nonprofits, and associations. Nearly three-quarters reported being at the director level or higher, and more than half said they were the primary decision-makers for their company when it came to strategy, distribution, or development and production of content.

Also, please note that all facts and findings presented in the study are based on a survey that pre-dated the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A copy of the full report is available here.



The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.


The Content Council is the premier nonprofit organization representing content marketers globally. As the definitive resource for content marketing insights and thought leadership, we are focused on promoting the growth and vitality of this dynamic marketing discipline. We are also an excellent resource for connecting brand marketers with the best content agency to meet their specific needs. Through creativity and strategy, our members build content programs that deliver results. Our mission is to make content marketing service providers more effective, productive, and successful by providing thought leadership, research, networking, and learning.


John Wolfe
Director of Communications
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