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This Week in Content Marketing: Why Medium Is Betting on Email (and So Should You)


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

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss the implications of Twitter’s CEO resigning from the company, the social media channel’s strengths as a broadcast medium, and the possibility that it may be acquired by Google. We also ponder a set of predictions for digital’s “third wave” that actually make sense and the implications of Netflix’s savvy distribution deal for Brad Pitt’s new movie. In addition, Robert and I wax philosophical over Medium’s new direction, which puts a surprising amount of emphasis on an old-school form of communication – email. Rants and raves include hating on content marketing and an online retailer’s commitment to patiently grow an audience for its new content portal first – before attempting to monetize it. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example of the week from Brewing TV.

This week’s show

(Recorded live June 15, 2015; Length: 1:02:36)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Twitter CEO calls it quits: (5:46): Twitter CEO Dick Costolo hasn’t met investor expectations, and now he has resigned, according to CNN Money. Many on Wall Street have been calling for him to step down over the past year, as Twitter has struggled to add new members and generate more revenue from its ad products. This article is paired with the next one, which chronicles the history of Twitter with an infographic.
  • The evolution of Twitter (5:46): Twitter was launched way back in 2006. To date, there are more than 288 million users who are active in sharing and sending tweets in a day. This infographic provides a nice overview of the growth of this popular social media channel. Robert and I agree that Twitter is certainly very relevant as an audience-building and engagement platform; it’s just not producing revenue as quickly as investors hoped. Is it ripe for acquisition by Google? We think it’s a strong possibility, and we explain why.
  • Digital’s third wave (14:55): A new column from AdAge predicts that digital agencies are on the cusp of a third wave, which will be characterized by four mega-trends: co-creation of content, using data to drive greater creativity, smarter approaches to native advertising, and stemming the tidal wave of turnover at digital agencies. I love the idea of co-creation; there are huge opportunities for brands to partner with existing thought leaders to reach their target audiences faster. What hasn’t changed is the tendency of agencies to focus on campaigns. Robert loves the idea of big data and creatives working more closely to drive change.
  • Netflix distribution deal a game changer (25:16): Netflix has flipped the movie business upside-down — and flipped the bird to the box office. Its recent announcement that the streaming company paid $30 million to finance and distribute Brad Pitt’s upcoming flick War Machine, simultaneously online and in theaters, means Netflix is now not only a major movie studio, but the distributor and, basically, acting as a Cineplex, too. I think this is a phenomenal example of not only building your content, but controlling its distribution as well. Robert points out that deals like this should lead to a resurgence of original, mid-budget movies.
  • Medium budget cuts and changes (32:27): Several weeks ago, blogging platform Medium announced a change of direction and some significant staff cuts. It claims it wants to become more of a social network and less of a publishing platform – whatever that means. Medium’s vague, confusing announcement says this isn’t a pivot or a shake-up, but just a step in its evolution. This article is paired with the following news item about Letters from Medium.
  • Medium introduces Letters (32:27): Along with Medium’s announcement of its structural changes, it also launched Letters, a new feature that simultaneously emails your posts to all of your followers and to your Medium blog. Its aim is to encourage greater audience engagement. But Robert cautions that Medium is not giving you their email addresses; it’s simply providing a platform for you to message them. In light of this limitation, Robert and I discuss a way to use Medium and Letters that makes sense.

2. Sponsor (41:20)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by Citrix GoToWebinar, a do-it-yourself event tool that projects your message to up to 1,000 online attendees. It’s offering a new report written by Robert Rose entitled The Role of Webinars in the Buyer’s Journey. It explains how webinars can be used in a variety of roles throughout the buyer’s journey, best practices for approaching content by purpose, and why you should broaden the scope of webinar use to increase the success of your content marketing strategy. Learn more at

citrix-go to webinar-sponsor-image

3. Rants and raves (43:20)

  • Robert’s rant: Robert hates the attitude that’s reflected in this article from CIO – the goal of content marketing is to fool customers into believing that content is good for them, but it’s only thinly-veiled advertising. Since content marketing can’t meet some imaginary lofty standard, why do it? But this line of thinking uses the traditional model of marketing and advertising to try to define content marketing, which is a flawed approach. This attitude even pervades corporations, where executives question the value of telling certain stories.
  • Joe’s rave: I love the new editorial site devoted to “sleep culture” that was recently launched by mattress retailer Casper. The site is cleverly named Van Winkles, and it will operate completely independently of its e-commerce parent. I especially like a quote from Casper’s co-founder, Luke Sherwin, in which he says the company won’t give in to the temptation to quickly monetize its new web property; building an audience will be its first priority. That’s a refreshing approach!

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (55:20)

  • Brewing TV: Northern Brewer was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and quickly grew into the leading retailer of home brewing equipment and supplies. In 2009, it launched a Brewing TV website and weekly web show on YouTube. Its two hosts covered processes for brewing beer, equipment reviews, and much more. In 2011, Northern Brewer was sold to a venture capital group, which didn’t value the show and killed it. One of the two hosts from Brewing TV, Chip Walton, left Northern Brewer to launch Chop & Brew, a new show with a similar format. He subsequently went to work for Summit Brewing Company; this craft brewer now sponsors his new web show. The most recent development is that Northern Brewer recently resumed production of Brewing TV. This is an excellent example of a talented person who is dedicated to providing an audience with excellent content taking his unique expertise with him from one company to another.


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

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