Everyone’s a Media Company Now – BRINK – Global Business Conversations & Insights

regular readers of The bustle, a media focused on economic news, knows its unique ability to make economic and financial news more accessible. Since its launch in 2014, it has amassed nearly 2 million newsletter subscribers and launched podcasts and a search business. Wherever the public experiences The bustlethey meet a conversational tone, youth-friendly branding, and sharp analysis.

Those same audiences have to really squint, though, to know that The bustle is not just a business news site. It belongs to hubspotthe publicly traded software company that acquired The bustle for $27 million about a year ago.

Have value for the public

Hubspot is one of a growing number of companies – from consumer brands like Nike and Patagonia, to venture capitalists like Andreesen Horowitz, to banks like JP Morgan Chase – that are building or acquiring their own hubs. information and media.

Why? Because every business depends on public attention for its growth. They need it to build their brand, acquire new customers and retain them. But attention is getting harder and harder to capture.

“We’ve seen an explosion in the number of brands using online channels to promote their services and products to potential customers,” said Kieran Flanagan, senior vice president of marketing at Hubspot. in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “The problem with this model is that you’re not just battling other competitors for that attention; you are competing with all the sites that publish informative videos, latest trends and educational content that meets the needs of their audience. We built HubSpot on the belief that you get attention by being helpful. »

In short, every business needs to start thinking and acting like a media company.

Media companies are trading in an increasingly rare commodity: direct relationships with the public over a long period of time. We check our favorite media or aggregators in the morning, we hit Netflix at night, and rely on many other brands in between. These relationships are built around some type of value exchange. A media company gives the audience something informative, inspiring or entertaining and in return the audience pays attention to the media company.

Brands will only benefit from operating as a media company if they adhere to the fundamental principle of a media company of serving the public before their own interest.

These relationships are important because of several headwinds that all businesses face. Online privacy measures mean brands can no longer use intrusive personal data about individual consumers to target them with specific ads.

So the more brands can get people to interact with them directly — through their website, app, or their own media channels — the more they can learn first-hand about what people want.

Market Rewards Subscription Models

Financial markets favor companies with recurring revenue because they are more predictable and profitable than showy growth numbers. Media companies specialize in subscription-based customer relationships. The New York Times currently has 10 million paid subscribers. Yes, people are canceling, but that number is unlikely to ever go down. The result: The temperature earns $1 billion less in annual revenue today than in 2008, when it relied primarily on ad revenue, but its the market capitalization is five times higher.

Audiences are also fragmented across millions of media, platforms and locations. This makes traditional forms of marketing and advertising much less effective. And even when a TV commercial or digital marketing campaign resonates with a large number of people, the brand is actually only praising those audiences. To reach them again, they have to start all over again.

Hubspot’s acquisition of The bustle was designed with these trends in mind. And many other companies are doing the same. Here are some other examples:

Acquisition of JP Morgan Chase Enthusiasm, a media specializing in food and catering. The logic goes like this: if you like to eat out, you might like a credit card that gives you rewards for it.

Andreesen Horowitz, the pioneering Silicon Valley venture capital firm, recently launched its own media property, Coming. “We want to be the go-to place to understand and build the future, for anyone building, manufacturing or interested in technology,” he said when announcing the platform.

Several sports betting companies are to acquire Where Licence sports media companies, with the aim of creating interest and a better understanding of the games that its audience will ultimately bet on.

Major consumer companies are reorienting their business models around subscriptions that include a variety of media. In addition to its flagship devices, Apple offers a package which includes music, streaming TV, fitness, games and news services. Nike built a membership product which includes virtual workouts, fitness and nutrition information, and stories about gear and sneaker design.

Is it journalism?

In many of these cases there is legitimate questions whether these brands co-opt or circumvent the traditional role of journalism, which serves as a source of responsibility for these same brands. If on his Coming real estate site, Andreesen Horowitz – who manages a $3 billion cryptocurrency portfolio – publishes articles telling everyone they should invest in cryptocurrency, are they such a reliable source of information as The Wall Street Journal?

This is why these efforts must learn from the practices of journalism – transparency, inclusiveness, investigation – and not supplant journalism.

Brands will only benefit from operating as a media company if they adhere to the fundamental principle of a media company of serving the public before their own interest. The content they produce must be able to stand out in the media market.

It means treating people like audiencenot consumers. Audiences are real people, with real interests and a fixed amount of attention. “Consumers” are demographic groups to sell to, measured by their ability to buy. Yes, brands need people to buy things and consumers need products that just do what they need. This will never change. But there is even more value in getting people to see your brand as part of themselves.

It’s what the best media companies do and what the best companies in any industry should strive to do.

Cathy W. Howerton