Publishers And Platforms Sitting In A Tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G

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May 26, 2017

As Greg Piechota noted in his talk at this year’s Digital Innovators’ Summit, platforms are huge and powerful, they easily win and hold the audience’s attention and…they can benefit publishers. “You think about [platforms] as your suppliers rather than your business partners,” he says, “You are not begging them for money; you are basically ‘hiring’ them to do a job for you.” So in this new-found spirit of cooperation, it is interesting to see how different publishers are approaching ‘doing business’ with platforms.

The New York Times is launching Snapchat Discover editions, as is Conde Nast, while The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and MTV already do. Meanwhile The Times UK has three digitally-driven editions a day. These examples represent publishers who are willing to break their own publishing model and do something differently. It’s brave, it’s necessary, but is it working?

Perhaps it’s too soon to say. And, in the case of the NY Times, the project is being approached as an experiment – albeit one that has a lot of groundwork already laid. The NY Times has had a Snapchat account for two years and has used that time to pitch and refine its content and tone of voice to the audience group on that platform. In addition, its Morning Briefing newsletter has 1.3 million subscribers and its daily podcast has more than 20 million listens – showing that it’s dipping its digital toe in to test the water and the water is just fine. Speaking about the launch, a representative noted that the tone will be light but not too light, it’s still “Timesean” – which sounds like the publishers have worked hard to carve out an identity that both fits the platform but retains its integrity.

Most of these titles are breaking their one-web-edition-a-day publishing model and fragmenting content across different platforms to appeal specifically to Millennials and Generation Z. In so doing, they have had to look at how the content appears each platform, everything from the type of story to the language and tone of voice, so as appeal to the users of that particular platform. It’s easy to see how the brand identity could get lost in process.

Fred Santarpia, Chief Digital officer at Condé Nast points out though that some content naturally lends itself to the platform such as the photos and videos of fashion events for Vogue and awards ceremonies for Glamour, if anything, the traditional format for these stories was restrictive. Weekly Snapchat Discover content for GQ, Wired and Self will follow with a view to growing the offering on that platform if they are successful – and why wouldn’t they be, the content of each has Millennial appeal.

The latest Magazine Media 360° Social Media Report from MPA also suggests that platforms are already doing publishers huge favors – particularly magazines that don’t seem to have difficulty aligning their identities with the audience group’s expectations of the platform; depending on the magazine and the platform that is. Twitter, for example, seems to be best for business & finance, sports, and health titles while Instagram is more popular for travel, pop culture, outdoor pursuits and women’s fashion/lifestyle titles.

It all just goes to show that having to go back to the drawing board isn’t the end, and in the case of publishers and platforms, it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

If you would like to ‘discover’ how to amplify your content, get in touch with Amnet today.