A Publisher's Survival Guide for the Platform Era

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Bloomberg Media CEO Justin B. Smith's 11-step program for publishers in the platform era

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A Publisher's Survival Guide for the Platform Era

  1. 1. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era Justin B. Smith CEO, Bloomberg Media @Justin_B_Smith
  2. 2. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 2 First, the bad news for publishers.
  3. 3. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 3 Google and Facebook are a glaring duopoly. Source: Bloomberg Intelligence, eMarketer. Based on U.S. spend. Digital advertising revenue growth. ($B) $2.17 $2.66 $2.90 $3.32 $2.40 $4.27 $2.25 $7.88 $2.69 $9.09
  4. 4. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 4 Digital ad revenue models are under withering attack.
  5. 5. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 5 Other revenue streams haven’t materialized at scale. Paywalls have largely failed with very few exceptions. Ancillary revenue such as events, marketing services, and e-commerce, have not closed the gap. No high-growth, large-scale new revenue streams on the horizon.
  6. 6. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 6 Now, the good news.
  7. 7. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 7 Digital advertising is still in its infancy – 65% of spend is on traditional media. Google and Facebook won Round 1, the fight for direct-response advertising, where micro-targeting makes sense and the platforms have the customer data advantage. But the real fight is Round 2, as $250B in brand advertising locked up in TV and print floods into digital. Publishers were built for brand advertising. We control the content in our environments, have deep relationships with brands, and know what our own audiences want. The digital revolution is just getting started.
  8. 8. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 8 Being a platform, not a content creator, opens the door to “fake news,” low-grade content, and other liabilities for brands. Microtargeting raises prices, and does not broaden the brand funnel. Facebook and Google need publishers because content drives engagement – and they may be showing signs of acknowledgment. Platforms have clear vulnerabilities.
  9. 9. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 9 So, what should a publisher do?
  10. 10. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 10Summary 1. Obsess over differentiation 2. Become a brand management whiz 3. Fight (until your last breath) to keep a direct relationship with your audience 4. Be tough and picky about platform partnerships 5. Reinvent brand advertising and wean yourself off programmatic 6. Productize your data 7. Define the right video strategy for you 8. Think globally, but operate locally 9. Fragment yourself into as many niches as possible 10. Do things that platforms can’t do 11. Be relentless about talent and execution A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era
  11. 11. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 11 Obsess over differentiation. 1 Digital journalism is commoditized. Chase uniqueness, not scale. Be the “must read” for your audience.
  12. 12. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 12 Become a brand management whiz. 2 Your brand is everything. Adopt industry brand management best practices. Brand is the north star, above editorial and business.
  13. 13. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 13 Fight (until your last breath) to keep your direct relationship with your audience. 3 Spend your time and resources on innovating your direct relationship instead of working with platforms. Build your business around your own products and services – apps, live events, and new technology of your own.
  14. 14. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 14 Be tough and picky about platform partnerships. 4 Publishers risk spreading themselves too thin. Focus on platforms of greatest importance for your audience. Be willing to walk away from unfair deal terms (i.e. most of them). Court the “sleeping giants” – the telcos, Amazon, and smaller social networks – that could offer you better terms.
  15. 15. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 15 Reinvent brand advertising and wean yourself off programmatic. 5 Flip your model and shift your energy and resources toward truly differentiated advertising. Move upstream into supporting brand clients – with business solutions, marketing insights, and custom content. Programmatic is a race to the bottom and prevents differentiation.
  16. 16. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 16 Productize your data. 6 Gathering data is table stakes – most publishers are pooling 1st-party data in data lakes and DMPs. But few have truly cracked the code on how to monetize it. Build products to drive audience engagement or improve advertiser targeting. At Bloomberg, we are creating tools like B-Match, which lets advertisers target a specific audience, a specific type of article, and a specific time of day.
  17. 17. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 17 Define the right video strategy for you. 7 Develop a primary video strategy that is not platform-reliant. Focus on creating high-quality, differentiated video on your own sites and apps. Monetize your video through licensing agreements – not just advertising.
  18. 18. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 18 Think globally, but operate locally. 8 Most media conglomerates are over-indexed on the U.S. – future growth will be international and country-based. There is no such thing as a “global strategy.” Create a strategy for each new region based on local needs, and be flexible with your model, relying on freelancers, partners, and licensing. Geographic expansion – if executed effectively – diversifies your revenue into markets without as many strong incumbents.
  19. 19. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 19 Fragment yourself. 9 Create narrow brand verticals to develop content and advertising engagement. “Niche the niche” until you’re a mosaic. Ensure a strong umbrella brand structure.
  20. 20. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 20 Do things that platforms can’t do. 10 Position yourselves as custom content creators and strategic partners. Platforms are merely intermediaries. Lean into your strengths – as storytellers, designers, and brands. Expand into creative design, marketing services, live events, subscriptions, e-commerce and even strategic consulting.
  21. 21. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 21 Be relentless about talent and execution. 11 Build your team like you’re collecting art – the group should be greater than the sum of its parts. Also, think like a conductor – how do all the instruments work together to create amazing and harmonious music? Publishers need to reverse the talent drain to the tech industry.
  22. 22. A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era 22 Audience QA @Justin_B_Smith 1. Obsess over differentiation 2. Become a brand management whiz 3. Fight (until your last breath) to keep a direct relationship with your audience 4. Be tough and picky about platform partnerships 5. Reinvent brand advertising and wean yourself off programmatic 6. Productize your data 7. Define the right video strategy for you 8. Think globally, but operate locally 9. Fragment yourself into as many niches as possible 10. Do things that platforms can’t do 11. Be relentless about talent and execution

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