No industry has been more disrupted over the past decade than traditional media. I’ve seen this evolution firsthand, as it occurred at the same time as the rise of the content marketing industry.
In the beginning, there were traditional media companies, and life was good. These organizations maintained staffs of hundreds of journalists who reported on the stories they were interested in covering, and they delivered those stories with a publishing cadence they determined. Best of all, their audiences consumed these stories regularly, and advertising revenue soared.
Then the digital revolution came, and media consumption preferences changed.
As technology became more ubiquitous, readers’s appetites for content became insatiable, and brands saw an opportunity to expand their influence in new ways. Rather than spending advertising dollars to market to a publisher’s audience, brands opted to cut out the middle man and create their own entertainment hubs. Enter new players such as Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.
Since the digital boom and emergence of the content marketing industry, the media landscape has shifted dramatically. Brands are acting more like publishers, and publishers are acting more like brands. As a reader of the Content Standard, you already know this—but have you ever thought about what it actually means? I know I have.
Brands are acting more like publishers because they are creating their own content hubs to connect directly to their audiences. Some companies doing this extremely well include Red Bull, Patagonia, American Express, IBM, and Adobe. These companies focus on their audience’s interests, offering truly valuable content instead of selling them on their products or services. The trend of brands building content hubs is likely to continue growing.
Publishers are acting more like brands because they’re embracing native advertising, establishing internal agencies to create stories on behalf of brands, and launching freelance contributor networks to increase their content velocity.
About two months ago, Condé Nast launched its branded content studio, 23 Stories, in an effort to unlock its “content expertise, creative talent, distribution network, and first-person data for advertisers and marketers.” Meredith Corporation acquired Selectable Media saying, “The addition of Selectable Media further enhances our ability to offer clients innovative native and engagement-based advertising solutions across both Meredith Digital’s audience of more than 60 million monthly unique visitors and Selectable Media’s extended media network.” And Entertainment Weekly launched The Community, a content destination powered exclusively by freelance superfans. These moves will help the companies increase their revenue, and they’re part of a trend I certainly expect to continue in the content marketing industry.
The good news for traditional media companies, new media companies, and brand publishers alike is that there is room for everyone to succeed. Consumers still love media, and they seem to have an insatiable appetite for it.
Traditional media companies can learn from brands and new media companies by taking risks, never being afraid to recreate the wheel, and being open to different revenue drivers such as native ads and contributor networks. New media companies and brands can learn from traditional media by maintaining high editorial standards and a regular publishing cadence, not by focusing their content on their own products and services. The future is truly bright for all those who are ready to embrace the new normal of the media world.
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