There’s a lot of talk these days about content (like blogs, podcasts, social networking, etc) changing the way advertising works. Essentially, the idea is that content actually makes the most effective advertising, especially online.

What I find interesting is that this is supposedly a new idea. Now, make no mistake, I agree 100% that content makes the most effective advertising and marketing (think white papers, special reports, articles, advertorials, videos, etc). However, I don’t think this is new. In fact, this concept has been around and in practice for 100 or more years.

Good, effective marketing almost always at least appears to be content. Some will stomp their feet here and demand that in a web 2.0 world that content must truly be content…not just appear to be content. But I submit to you that if content ultimately leads to a sale, it is actually marketing material disguised as content…or perhaps, coexisting as content. Just as if a salesperson strikes up a conversation with a prospect that ultimately leads to sale—it’s still selling.

In fact, marketing began as content. It wasn’t until the modern era that marketing somehow turned into art or comedy or satire. Business owners and marketing professionals have been under the false belief for 40-50 years now that marketing must entertain or puzzle or dazzle.

Rather, the true goal of effective marketing and advertising should be to educate, to clarify, to help aid the decision-making process, to simplify, etc. Gravitational Marketing is about captivating, invigorating and motivating. All of these are accomplished through deliberately constructed content. Not flashy images or clever slogans.

So all-in-all, I believe that this new shift in marketing is really just an indication that perhaps we’re returning to reason and roots. Perhaps professionals are beginning to realize that marketing and advertising are more than entertainment and that done properly it can capture and hold the attention of prospects and be just as entertaining and inspiring as content, and occasionally indistinguishable.

And just as teenagers who “discover” bell bottom pants and other retro clothing haven’t actually invented anything new, this new breed of marketers are not blazing any trails.