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This Week in Content Marketing: This is the Year Agencies Buy Media Companies


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this broken-pipe episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I talk about Medium’s latest pivot, while AOL thinks it’s discovered a better way to serve up advertising. In addition, GaryVee leads the way for 2017 to be the year agencies started buying media companies. Rants and raves include Tom Brady and long-form content. This week’s TOM example: AARP.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on Jan. 9, 2017; Length: 01:04:49)

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1.    Content marketing in the news

  • Renewing Medium’s focus (6:52): Ev Williams, CEO of Medium, wrote about the company’s decision to reduce its team by one-third and to pivot Medium’s business model to more directly drive its original mission: “We set out to build a better publishing platform – one that allowed anyone to offer their stories and ideas to the world and that helped the great ones rise to the top.Medium found that it can’t get to that mission by simply tweaking the publishing model that relies on advertising. As I said in an earlier episode, Medium’s business model is right in front of them – paid versus free subscription – like WordPress. To us that’s the clearest path to profitability, but we’re not sure that’s where they intend to go.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk acquires women’s publisher PureWow (17:20): The new year started with an agency acquisition of a lifestyle digital media company. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Gary Vaynerchuk, who owns the agency VaynerMedia, is creating a sister company, The Gallery, which is to be the home for PureWow as well as possible future niche media acquisitions. Neither Robert nor I saw this move as surprising. Robert calls it a “brilliant move” to make VaynerMedia an integrated platform that is building the media part last instead of first. We both think the M&A environment will get crazy this year.
The M&A environment will get crazy in 2017, says @joepulizzi & @robert_rose. Share on X
  • AOL hopes these two new ad formats will thwart ad blocking (22:29): Though we weren’t at CES, the Verizon-owned AOL was and released its new initiative, BrandBuilder. As Adweek reports: “… AOL hopes to create custom and native ads that encourage consumers to not use an ad blocker. One of the new ad units, for example, doles out free Verizon data in exchange for clicking on a mobile ad to download a coupon.”AOL thinks that creating better, less-intrusive ads will lead to higher engagement. Robert thinks it’s the dumbest idea. I call it stupid. To me, it seems like BrandBuilder will be sold as NAB – not as bad as – other forms of advertising. With just a hint of sarcasm, I suggest AOL go back to its vault and resume mailing CDs to boost business.
  • BuzzFeed’s Tasty cookbook sold enough copies to make it one of the best-selling cookbooks of the year (27:42): Consumers can only buy Tasty: The Cookbook, the customized recipe book from the BuzzFeed vertical of the same name, from BuzzFeed (it’s not available in bookstores or Amazon). Yet, according to NiemanLab, the choose-your-own categories, print-on-demand cookbook sold over 100,000 copies in the last two months of 2016, earning BuzzFeed an estimated $2.4 to $4 million in sales. Robert talks about how he loves the idea of taking content that already provided value and setting it up to bring in additional revenue. We expect to see growth and value on product-revenue opportunities like this one for media companies as the advertising model continues to decline.

2.    Sponsor (36:14)

  • Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 events. Whether you are just getting started with content marketing or are looking to take your expertise to the next level, CMI’s portfolio of events has you covered. From our free virtual ContentTECH conference, to our strategy-focused Intelligent Content Conference, to Content Marketing World – the largest annual gathering of content marketing professionals in the industry – we offer a wide range of unparalleled training, education, and networking experiences. Check out all the events we have in store for 2017, and sign up for the ones that fit your needs.


3.Rants and raves (40:44)

  • Robert’s rave 1: Though Robert gives it a rave, it pains him a little bit to laud Tom Brady’s new product line at Under Armour – sleepwear with technology to help athletes recover faster. What Robert really likes is that the pajamas come with content-driven experiences as detailed by NESN. The pajamas are accompanied by an app to provide tips and education on getting better sleep. In addition, Under Armour launched a children’s book featuring Tom, the tortoise, and the hare, crafted by Funny or Die writers.
  • Robert’s rave 2: A New York Times opinion piece, How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News, details the shock of science professor Nathan Phillips who saw advertising for his alma mater Duke University on Breitbart. We know that’s the challenge of programmatic advertising – brands buy ads through a program without knowing which sites will publish them. After Nathan contacted Duke, the university shared his surprise and assured him steps were taken to ensure that its ads never appear on Breitbart. Given that example, brands may be the solution for disrupting the implications of the fake news phenomenon. Marketers have to take more responsibility for where their programmatic advertising is published.
Marketers have to take responsibility for where their programmatic advertising is published, says @robert_rose. Share on X
  • Joe’s rave: Seth Godin’s 17-pound, 800-page collection of his work, What Does It Sound Like When You Change Your Mind, is being buzzed about these days. I am about to read the 671 pages of Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss. And then there is this Poynter article about Huffington Post doubling down on its long-form content initiative because data shows consumers are spending more time and engaging more with longer content. In the video world, YouTube guru MatPat tells me the average length for the best-performing YouTube videos is about 12 minutes. These examples are great indicators that audiences will take more time to consume content if they find it worthwhile.
Audiences will take more time to consume #content if they find it worthwhile, says @joepulizzi. Share on X

4.    This Old Marketing example of the week (57:25)

  • Did you know AARP the Magazine is the No. 1 circulated magazine in the United States? Debuted in 1958 as Modern Maturity, the print publication has held its top ranking since the late 1980s. It covers hot topics, profiles celebrities, and includes paid advertising for the over-50 demographic. The print property also has a digital version and is featured prominently on the organization’s website. The media product exists primarily to drive AARP membership and build member loyalty. Think AARP’s print success is because it targets an older audience? Think again. Game Informer, a print magazine from GameStop, is also on the top 10 list.


Image source

For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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