As publishers continue to seek new revenue streams, we’ve also seen a parallel trend – product companies, whether they make shoes or sell real estate, are now in dire need of content, but structurally unable to create it in any compelling, systematic way.
And with curated consumption, we have a differently influenced audience making purchase decisions based upon a series of recommendations or exposure from the right sources.
This environment will further mash media products and physical products, making them invariably connected and inter-dependent. The content surrounding the thing creating much of that thing’s value. It reeks of mutual opportunity for the content people seeking new revenue and for the product people seeking new content.
Groupon should have been made by Murdoch. Yelp could’ve have been an off-shoot of the New York Times. For some reason local expertise around restaurants or entertainment hasn’t yet made that leap. But it will.
Niche publishing brands are already using their audiences to not simply sell ad space in cubic inches or pixel widths, but by deeply integrating and expanding from a vision, a perspective or point of view. Stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters now introduce new fashions, new music, new ideas – unquestionably blending distribution, influence and bottom-up lifestyle construction.
JC Penney recently partnered with Hearst Publishing to launch new product experiences crafted more specifically for an audience with which the publisher has a deep native knowledge of and voice within. With GiftingGrace.com, editors from Redbook and Good Housekeeping will play the role of curator. With their other new venture, CLAD, the team from Esquire will take a lead role in product selection. With each, JC Penney will have a willing partner for content, community and distribution.
This will define the next era in product-related content, where publishers and product makers don’t simply trade dollars for space, but carefully partner for mutual brand and monetary benefit.
And for agencies, we can play in these arrangements, as well. We are uniquely situated to provide assistance in the formation of these partnerships, shepherding the creation of content extending through television spots, microsites, brand and product experiences. For those product brands, they will be adding their own editorial layers, carefully injecting quality control over a thousand points of communication without the staffs particularly equipped to accomplish such tasks.
But this also means that agencies that thrive here will be more integrated not just into client businesses, but into the fabric of their value systems. It will require iterative strategies, shorter routes to approval, more agile development processes, less territorial stances and constant feedback loops. This won’t only be survival of the fittest, but something much more tribal – companies seeking each other based upon similar worldviews, purposes and a fluency within the right audiences.
(photo via alnka)