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Publishers as Platforms

Jonathan Glick wrote a thoughtful piece on re/code entitled, The Rise of the Platishers. In the piece Jonathan talks about the new media companies that are developing and how they are a combination of a publisher and a platform.

What should we call a publisher — like Gawker — that provides a tech platform on which anybody, not just its staff, can create content? What should we call a tech platform — like Medium — that has a team of editors and pays some contributors to create content? It’s something in between a publisher and a platform — something that weaves together the strengths of both. A platisher.

Crazy term aside, Jonathan is noticing a very important trend. We see this at Percolate where our job is to be the content marketing platform of record for brands. Offering our technology to to help brands create and distribute content to any platform they would like.

How did this happen, why do publishers need to act like platforms?

From the image at the beginning of the post, where your content is your ad and your ad is your content, we are seeing some of the best publishers in the world follow the model that was pioneered by social platforms. The rules of the platforms are very simple – there is no traditional ad unit and the brand is treated the same as everyone else on the platform. The only advantage the brand has is they have the marketing budget to create great content and can pay to promote that great content.

Here are a few reasons why platforms and publishers smash together, and a glimpse at what is next:

  • The technology trend leading the charge is social and mobile. They are the catalyst for how brands are now are taking a content-first and platform-specific approach to all their marketing

  • Brands follow time and attention of their audiences. Some of the largest media companies by market cap in the world are now social/mobile platforms (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)

  • Publishers are innovating fast to try and catch up and are launching their own native or sponsored content models.

  • The challenge for brands revolves around publishers becoming another channel to create content for. This isn’t trivial given the new demands on content creation and the costs associated with it. Publishers have responded by trying to create all this content for brands through their in-house creative teams. This model can be threatening to brands and their agencies and creates a different workflow than what they have with platforms, where content creation is independent.

  • In order to scale like a platform, publishers have to let the brand create the content themselves by establishing frameworks that all content should live by.

Much like Facebook has their educational Publishing Garages, the more platforms or publishers can teach brands and their agencies how to create great content on their platform, the faster they should be able to drive adoption and revenue.

I’m excited to see where publishers go and we are deeply invested in trying to build scalable content models for our clients. We see publishers as a big part of where brands want to send their content and the more the publishers can build pipes like the platforms, the closer we can come to seeing publishers thrive like the platforms have.


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