At this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing conference, the rallying cry was, “Marketers must take our industry back.” And as CMOs gathered to share their inspiring work and wisdom, I noticed a trend. More often than not, when it came to citing a “strategic partner,” Facebook and Google were mentioned. Which made me wonder: What about the rest of the publisher community? Don’t they power the internet?
Now, this isn’t another article about bashing the duopoly or lamenting the rise of the tech platform giants. They are both phenomenal companies with amazing technology and great talent. Call them the 1 percent.
My focus is the other 99 percent, the ones who are telling stories, creating and curating amazing content, keeping a pulse on the zeitgeist and building meaningful and dedicated audiences.
While it may come as a shock to some folks in the business, the internet is actually much more than large platforms like Facebook and Google. In Cisco’s June 2017 Visual Networking Index report, global IP traffic was estimated to be 1.2 zettabytes per year (a zettabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes), growing 24 percent annually over the next five years.
The point is that the internet is big and only getting bigger. Content drives the internet. We can’t conflate content with distribution. Indeed, we need both and they need to work together. However, there are only so many cat videos one can watch. We want what publishers give us—quality content. While lots of time is spent discussing platform companies, it’s time we refocus on the publisher community. Publishers are mission-critical to the internet.
A few years ago, when I worked at Starcom MediaVest Group and led the Walmart team, I saw the power of publishers firsthand. Walmart’s former CMO Stephen Quinn was constantly in search of consumer insights, and he connected with publishers to learn as much as possible about shoppers.
Publishers large and small have always had a unique point of view on their audience, and as their digital tools became more effective, so did their understanding of their audiences. Somehow over the past few years, the power of publishers has gotten lost when large platforms dominate the conversation.
Now more than ever, publishers need to unite to showcase what they bring to the table. Similar to the way marketers are taking back their industry, publishers must rally together to show the industry the power of publishers. In a fragmented media landscape, it’s too easy (and frankly too lazy) to dismiss the 99 percent. Publishers power the internet. When brand safety, consumer insights and driving business outcomes all matter, there’s never been a better time for marketers to fall back in love with publishers.
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