I had a fascinating breakfast meeting yesterday with Ed Bussey who is the CEO/Founder of Quill. Ed is a longtime digital and mobile exec and entrepreneur. Quill, his latest venture, is a rapidly growing content marketing company that specialises in content strategy, production and increasingly distribution.
There were several things that struck me as interesting about the way they work. They have built a global network of specialist writers, editors and producers (numbering in the tens of thousands) that is supported by a proprietary technology platform which provides the community and input interface. The workflow incorporates some technical quality assurance capabilities, which is then augmented by in-house editors in order to ensure a consistency in quality.
The platform optimises content for the web, and the use of local experts, writers and producers helps to alleviate one of the trickiest issues for global companies - the balance between global consistency and highly relevant localisation that goes beyond simple translation.
Content strategy and production is informed by brand profiling tools that ensure relevant subject matter and tone. A platform API means it can be linked directly to a client company CMS, enabling content to be pushed direct to client owned media properties, subject to the approval of a brand editor if necessary.
Their vision is to be the leading worldwide platform of this kind but the most interesting thing is that their model of distributed production facilitated through technology potentially solves the extremely tricky balance of doing quality content at cost-efficient scale. It's interesting too that having started with production, they are now moving quickly (facilitated by client demand) into strategy, idea generation, content curation and distribution.
Companies like Quill are benefitting from the rapid growth in demand for tailored digital content which is in turn being powered by the increasing significance of always-on, content hungry owned and earned media channels. They are filling a gap, and it's a potentially significant one. It's kind of interesting that at a time when clients have ever increasing and very real needs for content, companies like this are moving into territory that advertising agencies and media owners have largely not adapted to address. Might this be a big missed opportunity?