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What is Content as a Service (CaaS)?

Content as a Service (CaaS), or Managed Content as a Service (MCaaS), is a cloud computing service model that delivers content on demand through web services and APIs via the cloud.
Jing Li

Written by Jing Li

Jun 05, 2023
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#Key Takeaways

  • Content as a Service (CaaS) manages structured content into feeds that other applications and platforms can easily consume.
  • Content is delivered rapidly in a format that platforms can consume, such as HTML or JSON, without needing a specific human-compatible rendering.
  • With CaaS, users gather all their content, manage and categorize it in one place and distribute it across all platforms and devices as required.
  • In the IoT era, CaaS enables teams to accelerate content delivery across devices, platforms, channels, and regions with better workflow management.
  • CaaS enables teams to enjoy greater content personalization, availability, flexibility, and measurability in how and where their content is delivered.

#What is Content as a Service?

Content as a Service (CaaS), or Managed Content as a Service (MCaaS), is a cloud computing service model that delivers content on demand through web services and APIs via the cloud.

Content gets stored in a raw format such as HTML or JSON—which is meant to be consumed by machines—and then delivered to different devices or content channels as necessary. For example, rather than storing content as a blog post, as might be expected with traditional content management, CaaS stores content as a raw HTML file.

Since CaaS is not meant for direct human consumption but rather for other platforms to consume and render as required, there are no limitations to the potential content delivery channels.

What’s more, as CaaS is cloud-based—all content (text, audio, video, etc.) is consolidated and available in one place, where editors and developers can create, edit, manage, categorize, and modify content whenever needed. It can then be customized and distributed to multiple devices on demand via a single API.

In this case, the CMS becomes a “content provider”, unlike the monolith legacy systems where the CMS was an “all-in-one software” that handled content management, output, display, and infrastructure.

#Content as a Service examples

Content as a Service can be found in just about any digital channel. Content can be delivered from the API and served as a mobile app. It can also be the products that show up on an e-commerce store or the content that gets displayed on a smartwatch. Here are a few examples:

  • A news site that isn’t only available as a website but also delivered via a mobile app to smartphones and tablets.
  • Through CaaS, an e-commerce store can be made available as a smartphone app, allowing customers to receive personalized product recommendations via push notifications on their devices.
  • A local coffee shop can offer a touchscreen menu kiosk that allows customers to browse items, make orders, and go to the counter to collect when it’s ready.

#How Content as a Service differs from traditional content management

Content as a service differs from traditional content management in several ways. What does that look like from a technical perspective?

Structured content vs. page-based templates

Traditional CMSs rely on page-based templates that define and restrict how to organize content. As a result, content is usually defined for a blog or a mobile app, but the options for content delivery are limited.

On the other hand, CaaS uses structured content, treating content as data to be more flexible and modular, allowing content to be molded to fit different channels and providing unrestricted options.

Decoupled architecture vs. coupled architecture

Content as a service relies on a decoupled(or even headless) architecture that separates the frontend presentation layer from the backend content repository. This architecture gives CaaS the flexibility to deliver content to any channel. Whereas with traditional content management systems, the front and backend couple tightly together, limiting content delivery to a single channel.

Cloud-based vs. on-premises

Many traditional CMS solutions are on-premises based, meaning the organization using them is responsible for security, maintenance, updates, and solving any scalability issues.

On the other hand, CaaS is cloud-based, which places the onus on the vendor offering the content as a service to manage infrastructure.

#Why brands need to consider Content as a Service

Traditional content management remains dominant in the digital world. However, as new channels emerge and the value of digital experiences continues to rise, so do the reasons brands need to consider adopting Content as a Service.

1. Developers need the freedom to use preferred languages and frameworks

Modern developers don’t want to be restricted by the templates of a CMS. They want the freedom to use the best-of-breed technologies and experiment with new languages and frameworks. Approaches like Jamstack have caught the attention of developers of all levels, with 60% of Jamstack developers having 5 or more years of experience, according to the Jamstack Community Survey 2022. To leverage these modern approaches, developers need access to Content as a Service.

2. Marketers need the flexibility to publish content to different channels

Mobile apps and digital kiosks were just two of the CaaS examples we mentioned earlier; however, that only scratches the surface. The number of content channels is endless, and marketers need the ability to publish content to those channels.

3. Customers want unique experiences and seamless transitions

Modern frameworks and multichannel content publishing combine to create a better customer digital experience. These consumers want brands to deliver content when and where they want it. They also want omnichannel experiences that allow them to transition between channels throughout the customer journey without feeling like a different brand is courting them. Consistency and flexibility are only possible by leveraging Content as a Service.

#Benefits of content as a service

There are multiple benefits to embracing the CaaS model through a headless CMS like Hygraph.

Personalized content for the audience

CaaS allows teams to dynamically handle their content, bringing flexibility and enabling personalization as required. Generally, teams can dictate custom rules to direct specific content to specific devices, platforms, and channels. On a more complex scale, teams can hook in their headless CMS to several CDPs and personalization tools to deliver targeted content to specific subsets of audiences, allowing for exceptional flexibility and granularity in marketing campaigns.

Multiple models

CaaS enables teams to manage all their content from one place, access it via a single API and distribute whatever content they want, wherever and whenever they want to render it. This eliminates the need for multiple CMSs to manage different channels and allows teams to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences.

Omnichannel delivery

As new channels and devices come to market regularly, CaaS enables teams to be better prepared to deliver their content to these platforms. As content is delivered via API, their campaigns can be future-ready. CaaS enables them to run campaigns across any platform, whether a website, app, smart fridge, smartwatch, or car.

Native content management

As content is delivered in a raw format, it can be rendered natively on any platform. CaaS liberates teams from displaying limited or condensed versions of their websites and allows teams to deliver native content to websites, whether a static website, a web application such as PWAs, SPAs, or any other proprietary formats.

Data-driven content

CaaS treats content as data. As every delivered content piece is API-driven, marketers can gather unprecedented insight into granular analytics by looking at API connections. This allows for greater detail in A/B testing since every piece of content can be analyzed individually and as a whole.

#Scalability and security with Content as a Service

In theory, CaaS enables content to scale globally without restriction. A reputable cloud-based CaaS provider would allow content to be distributed and cached globally, allowing better performance in rendering the content at the front end.

Similarly, a reputable provider would follow best practices on encryption and security to ensure that the content is secured from external attacks.

As there is no physical risk as in the case of on-site servers managing content, CaaS enables teams to focus on building their products and having their content readily available (and secure) whenever needed.

#Use cases for Content as a Service

Depending on business needs, CaaS has a variety of use cases for different teams:

Apps and mobile CMS

CaaS enables developers and app publishers to dynamically update the content on apps without submitting every new build to the app store for review. Similarly, marketing teams have better control over pushing promotions and campaigns into mobile environments on the fly.

That’s precisely the flexibility Asana Rebel gained with Hygraph. Their content team could publish and edit content without needing developer interference to mobile apps on iOS and Android interfaces.

Omnichannel distribution

A unified content API enables CaaS for teams to instantly deploy content to multiple channels rather than maintaining different databases per platform. A headless CMS will also allow teams to manage localized content within one database for other locales, making it easier to scale global distribution.

It’s worth mentioning that omnichannel distribution is more versatile than multichannel distribution since it does not only mean retrieving content from a single source and placing it on multiple channels. It can mean that different teams across an organization use different systems to manage their content, then unify it and distribute it to any channel as they want.

For example, in an e-commerce company, while product managers create product definitions and specs in their PIM, marketing editorial can be created within a CMS. The CaaS can be done by federating content from various sources via a single API and then delivering it to any presentation layer through a headless CMS.

Integrations and extensions

A headless CMS that empowers teams to use CaaS allows seamless connections to any MarTech stack or other software needed to deliver, measure, optimize, and improve content. Either via native integrations or through a combination of webhooks, a headless CMS allows content teams to run better campaigns and analyze results.

Better UI and UX flexibility

Since a CaaS CMS is platform agnostic and doesn’t tie the frontend to the backend, teams can design and build any visual experience they can imagine.

Native IoT content

A CaaS CMS allows for granular control of the distribution of structured data via API. Since the content is delivered in structured feeds, any platform can consume them in the format they were meant to be.

Rather than makeshift solutions like modifying web pages for watches or sending plain text updates to a coffee machine, content teams can now effortlessly deploy high-quality content to IoT platforms from the same federated content API.

This simplifies the workflow and ensures consistent and optimal content delivery across multiple devices and platforms.

AI and Bots

Structured content is much easier for chatbots, automated conversations, or other AI-powered tools to consume since they connect directly via API. Robots can rapidly consume and distribute the right content, especially when NLP (Natural Language Processing) comes into play.

Future-proof content

Devices can easily consume content delivered via API. With new platforms and channels coming to market regularly, teams can create content for any new technology without worrying about their CMS being able to push content to upcoming tools and platforms.

Multi-market localization

Accessing all your data sources via a single API means that the content can be maintained and localized for multiple locales in one place. Content can be created for all these locales and delivered accordingly, making internationalized content easier for content teams to manage and edit as required.

For example, global media company Discovery can use Hygraph to localize content for its Project CAT initiative. This includes serving content to 220 countries in 50 languages. Content authors can leverage an intuitive interface and custom workflows to maintain content velocity as they scale.

#How to adopt Content as a Service for your business

The core of delivering content at scale is to adopt a smart solution to manage content. While a monolithic approach sets you back, breaking it down into smaller pieces and migrating to a headless CMS should be something to look for.

As a global biotechnology publisher, BioCentury helps industry leaders make business-critical decisions. Over time, the infrastructure had grown too complex, making providing a high-quality user experience challenging. The team then switched their Drupal 6 instance to Hygraph, the flexible content modeling and programmatic content management have significantly improved the time-to-market and as a result, BioCentury increased content engagement by 120%.

Content as a service can take businesses to new heights, allowing brands to cater to customers on different channels. For those accustomed to a monolithic CMS or DXP suite, it’s possible to break down the monolith. A headless CMS like Hygraph offers composable architecture, structured content delivery, and cloud-based infrastructure needed for a Content as a Service solution.

#Frequently Asked Questions

Is Content as a Service cloud-based?

Content as a Service, or CaaS, is a part of the nomenclature of cloud computing service models. CaaS provides a centralized platform that can be globally accessible and provides a standard format for your content. With Content as a Service, you centralize your content into a single repository, where you can manage it, categorize it, make it available to others, search for it, or do whatever you wish with it.

What are some benefits of CaaS?

Treating Content as a cloud-based piece of data allows for unlocking use cases like personalization, atomic content, omnichannel delivery, native content management, and scalability of reusable content.

What are some use-cases of Content as a Service?

CaaS enables you to have reusable content available across websites, apps, and other digital platforms. It further allows for omnichannel delivery, integrations and extensions, better UI and UX flexibility, and future-proof content management.

Blog Author

Jing Li

Jing Li

Jing is the Content Marketing Manager at Hygraph. Besides telling compelling stories, Jing enjoys dining out and catching occasional waves on the ocean.

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