The new generation of publishers
The BBC, The Guardian and The Times are traditional media owners, providing space where editorial and paid for content are consumed. Whilst heritage is still relevant, the old approach of if we build it they will come no longer exists, challenging their position as the exclusive providers of stimulating content.
Challenges of Traditional Publishing
The internet has given everyone the license to publish. Consumers are now used to free media and unless the content is unique and unavailable elsewhere, paywalls appear to strangle rather than save.
Consequently media businesses suffer from a crowded market saturated with free content in which they increasingly have less say and where unless audiences are understood, they dwindle.
Unparalleled media powerhouses such as The Economist aside, traditional media owners suffer because of their specialisation and therefore reliance on an individual income stream in a market that changes with every technological advance.
Emergence of New Entrants
Many brands have begun generating content, using it across all internal and external communications materials. Typically the fundamental business of these brands hasn’t yet changed, but they understand that sales can be driven through brand affinity, leading them to explore storytelling as a way of engaging consumers across the internet; social media and the open web. Red Bull is a clear leader in this field and in the past decade we’ve even seen content strategy at the core of launching successful new brands, with NET-A-PORTER and Rapha all putting content marketing at the heart of their brands, subsequently enjoying rapid growth and brand acclaim.
The question is why? The business of media is clearly suffering from the struggle to keep up with technology. Why do brands believe they can beat the traditional players at their own media game and what advantages, if any, do they have?
The Rise of Brands as Publishers
Brands diversifying into the media space have a set of distinct advantages born from their own expertise and business approach that will drive them to be successful publishers.
- Distribution: It is in the DNA of successful brands, especially those that have adapted to or were borne of the internet to innovate and widen their portfolio to drive customer acquisition by aligning brand values with those of consumers. Brands are doing it effectively as they are new to the space; they’ve carved out their own approach to publishing based on trends and aren’t afraid to try new things.
- Market presence: Established brands investing in content typically hold a stable position in their own core markets and therefore have a constant revenue stream, ensuring they don’t have to worry too much about monetising their media. For example, the market for canned energy drinks isn’t exactly explosive and luxury will always be desirable.
- Content mileage: Brands embrace the movement of content while publishers fear it. For brands, media is a channel of expression, a way of communicating values and associations. Content appearing across the web is the ideal; exposure and engagement is key and largely it does not matter where it occurs. However, for publishers, engagement with content shared outside of their media portfolio can feel like theft, seemingly depriving them of advertising revenue and audience understanding.
In reality, publishers need to adopt the approach of brands and let their content spread across the web to drive users back to their own media portfolio; there’s great value in understanding where consumers have been and where they’re going. It’s not just about impressions; it’s about understanding.
Team Sky Successfully Turns Publisher
Team Sky, two-time winners of the Tour de France and founded by Sky, a leading media-owner itself recognised the need to understand and monitor their own engagement, so turned to RadiumOne to understand their digital presence. Team Sky is a young, emerging brand but it comes from a strong media heritage, perhaps explaining why it recognises a need to drive fan engagement.
That is why it is using RadiumOne’s Po.st Sharing Platform to learn about its total audience; the devices they use, when and what they browse and how they share. In terms of business objectives, this is clearly for purposes that support one another:
1. To help better understand how content is consumed with a view to deepening engagement
Which consequently helps build advocacy and informs partners on the most effective ways to activate their partnership.
2. To identify who the whole audience is, i.e. beyond those directly engaging, and how the team can better appeal to them directly by being more relevant still
Which grows reach by converting them into fans, so the cycle continues.
By better understanding its direct and remote digital audience Team Sky can ensure both its content, and that of its partners, is relevant, targeted and delivering a return on investment. Since the start of the Tour De France, Team Sky saw over one million unique interactions, 1.2 million clicks of shortened Po.st links and 24% of engagement taking place on mobile devices. This insight from the RadiumOne platform has enabled real-time and relevant engagement with potential existing and new audiences, and has enabled Team Sky to provide partners with a detailed audience data set that delivers clear ROI.
The Reality and The Future of Publishing
Everyone is a publisher and that makes content cheap, putting pressure on traditional media owners. However, now with more brands developing content hubs, consumers are becoming fatigued by choice. Similarly, publishers trying to cover all the bases run the risk of burn out.
In reality big media and big brands don’t need to compete, they have different objectives; monetise media and sell products. They have and always will depend on one another; it’s now a question of learning to coexist and sharing understanding of audience can be the first step. We’re clearly nearing this point with the flood of native advertising sweeping over publishers; just look to the work Condé Nast do with Shell as evidence that the most successful partnerships involve innovative brands working with media owners. Now it’s up to media and brands to join forces and take the step into the next generation of publishing together.
Commercial Director Europe
Tel: 0207 420 4290
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