Publishers-vs-Platforms-thumbnailGo to where the audience is — that’s the common refrain of 21st century media. Consumers are fragmented, and its up to journalists and editors to bring the news to them.

Video startup NowThis News announced last week that it would take that this idea to its logical extreme by eliminating its website. Its audience resided primarily on social media anyway, so that’s where the company now lives. Going forward, it will focus on publishing work directly to platforms like Facebook and Twitter instead of looking to drive consumers to its website.

For years, the digital media model relied on getting people to come back to a website and then showing them ads. Early on, publishers looked to appear high on the results for search engines (so called search-engine optimization) or on major portals like AOL and Yahoo in order to take advantage of their audiences. The emergence of social as a traffic driver in the past few years has caused digital publishers to put resources into building out their followers on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

As audiences have shifted to mobile, social media’s influence has grown.

“The reality is all the action is in the stream, whether it’s your Facebook stream or Twitter or Instagram. That’s where you’re spending your time,” said Andy Wiedlin, an entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and the former chief revenue officer atBuzzFeed, in an interview with Mashable.

Recently, those platforms have begun to explore how to get publishers to put their content directly on to the platforms instead of linking out. The platforms claim this results in a better experience, particularly on mobile phones. It also allows platforms to make money off this content through advertising revenue that is split with publishers.

Facebook does this with its native video player, and the company’s head of product, Chris Cox, said at Re/code’s media conference that it was in early talks with media outlets to host other content. Twitter’s native video player is just starting to gain steam. Messaging apps are also getting in on the action, particularly Snapchat whose new Discover platform disseminates media content.

Many media companies are exploring this cautiously, uploading some content to platforms but still focusing on generating traffic back to a website. NowThis, along with First Look’s, are two of the first media companies to fully embrace the platform approach. Wiedlin said they won’t be the last.

“I think that it’s inevitable and I think for a lot of people it makes a lot of sense,” Wiedlin said.


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