Are White Papers Dead?

What some would call “the king of content,” others would call antiquated, out-of-date and old fashioned. White Papers are a strange subject (learn more here), and yet they've had a huge impact on the business world as the definitive method with which to pass along important information to prospective buyers. In my mind, I had taken for granted the fact that white papers are prevalent and are not going away any time soon. That is until I decided to do some research and came across the following response:.

That was a response I received when I ran a survey of business minded individuals on a business focused social media/news platform (Accessed here). Judging by the amount of hearts on the comment, this gentleman isn't alone in his thinking that white papers are a thing of the past. Here are the results of that survey:

I found the results a bit surprising. Where are all the white papers?! A lot of people seem to think they’re dead, but this ran contrary to what I was seeing in my research. Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything though. However, after putting some thought into it, I believe I have an idea of what could be happening; White Papers aren't dead, they've simply been adapting.

The more research I've been doing over the past year into various industries has shown something. White papers are still very common, especially in business to business (B2B) marketing. We just don’t realize that a lot of marketing materials are actually white papers in disguise. *Whether it’s the full 8-12 pape paper, a trimmed down 2-5 page version, or a single extended webpage, I can recognize the framework of a white paper fairly quickly.

White Papers haven’t gone anywhere or died. They are simply being adapted to better fit specific situations and are being presented in a flashier fashion. You may not realize it, but white papers are extremely prevalent. They can be adapted to become press releases, webinars, treatments/scripts for an informative video, and a lot more you can read about here.

In a future post, we’ll cover some actual examples of adapted white papers in order to provide some real world context.


Andrew Bethel
DKB Strategies
Forging tomorrow’s business solutions