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Why Digital Publishing Companies are becoming Tech Companies

February 06, 2020
9 min reading time

It’s an exciting and terrifying time to be a media company in the online world.  

It is increasingly difficult to make money purely on advertising.  Companies like Outbrain and Taboola have merged, indicating diminishing returns.  Content marketers are finding it harder than ever to get that new piece of content to the top of the search results.  

For many media companies, marketing and product teams specifically for the digital publication have become their own departments. 

New platforms for your digital team are continuing to launch at a staggering rate.  Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), Customer Engagement Platforms, and Content Management Systems are continuing to evolve and grow into a very important part of your business.

And, as the digital media space becomes more and more crowded, content consumers are even more difficult to engage and retain. 

With the increasing adoption of these tools and services, you simply cannot remain competitive based on the quality of your digital content alone. To survive in this competitive industry, digital publishing companies must make technology a central part of their 2020 plan. 

This is a new reality: adopt technologies that deepen reader engagement, or risk losing readers to sites that do. 

Content optimization tools, like LiftIgniter, are an integral piece to this technological puzzle. With the right content optimization tool, you can deepen reader engagement and form lasting relationships with your readers.  A good content optimization tool keeps readers engaged with your site from the very first click.

For example, say someone lands on an article on your site from the search engines result.  You need to ensure that you have a content strategy in place to get that person the next best article. If you can recommend interesting content to each person, your overall engagement will grow and so will your loyal reader base.  

Build vs. Buy - When to Consider a Third Party Solution

As a media company, you probably have a sizeable staff with years of experience in content creation.  The quality, validity, and depth of your content should be the central focus of your business.

Likely you’ve got a smaller digital marketing and/or digital product team who is scrambling for resources.  Even if you’ve invested heavily in this department, managing tools, like CDPs, AdOps, and CMSes, takes a significant amount of time.  

Perhaps you’ve even invested in more technologies around data science and artificial intelligence.  Building an in-house solution for any of the supporting technologies mentioned above requires a massive amount of time, money and skill. 

Although it is possible to build technologies in-house, it’s much more cost-efficient and effective to implement a 3rd-party solution.  The 3rd-party provider can focus specifically on developing and maintaining increasingly effective solutions for your business, while you can focus on the content itself.

At LiftIgniter, over the past few years, we have seen companies invest millions into creating their own content optimization software.  Then, often they find that newer, more nimble solutions like ours perform better, and are easier to maintain.

Brands are Becoming Media Companies, Too

Almost 15 years ago Red Bull created Red Bull Media House, pioneering the concept that a brand could become a media company.  At that time there was a dramatic increase in both broadband speeds and internet consumption. Red Bull capitalized on these trends and decided that content creation was going to be central to their success as a brand.  

Five years ago, more big brands started to make content creation a central part of their marketing strategy.  These included companies such as American Express, Coke, and Proctor and Gamble. Today, b2b companies are following suit, and content publishing is becoming a lynchpin to their success.

This is good news for the customer and for the overall customer experience. But, this also means that the media landscape is getting even more crowded and confusing.  A traditional newspaper no longer competes only with digitally-native bloggers and content creators. They are now competing with any company that has an online presence.

Hiring Product People

Strangely, we now live in a world where CPG brands are hiring full-time video producers, photographers, and journalists.  Likewise in the media world, you will find at least one digital product manager working on a team that publishes content online.

These digital product managers are working on all sorts of projects for the larger organization.  The product team will often be responsible for growth, seo content, managing a publishing platform, and much more.  

Writers and product managers collaborate on new and exciting ways of telling their stories, through surveys, quizzes or animated infographics.  

The editorial team oftentimes relies on the product team to help publish their content with the right meta tags.  

The marketing team works with the product team to improve the companies KPIs through SEO and online customer experience.  

Revenue goals are met through product management with the advent of online paywalls and subscription services.

Previously, digital product managers, and others who manage technology for media companies, had no role within a media company. Today, they have a key role within their organizations. 

With so much to manage, media companies now require a well-integrated and supported technology team in their organization.  Gone are the days of a small IT department.  

Technology roles within a media organization should be orchestrating, not creating - leave that to your content producers.  Don’t reinvent new products when others have solved the problem already. Help your team by taking advantage of technologies that can help you leapfrog the competition.

Successful Tech Companies Use Other Tech Companies

Whether you are a brand, a traditional media company, or a digital-first content hub, you need solutions that help you stand out.

But focusing your internal processes on your core business is essential.  Even the biggest tech companies have a tremendous number of external vendors and partners servicing their needs.  They do this because those technologies are not central to creating their products.  

For instance, Apple announced a partnership with Salesforce.  Many large tech companies use G Suite as opposed to having their own internal IT-managed infrastructure.  Very few startups would exist without the plethora of technology services, like Google Cloud, Hubspot, or Wordpress, now widely adopted.

Consider, then, what you are in the business of doing as a media company.  Create content, hire a product team, and decide what services are core to your business.  

If your product team integrates external solutions where possible, then you will be a successful media company.  And, you will be a successful media company who has transformed into a successful tech company.


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