In my monthly opinion piece for Mediatel’s Newsline I discuss the trend for magazine publishers to offer marketing services to their advertising clients. By marketing services I mean the creation of custom content – more or less promotional – designed to support their sales efforts.
Publishers are exploiting their skills in content creation, production, distribution and audience development to deliver integrated marketing campaigns where once they just provided editorial context for ads.
Diversification is a clever move in a cash-strapped market where successful advertising is less about how much space you buy, and more about seeking ongoing engagement with customers through content-driven, multiplatform campaigns. But businesses used to creating content independent of any outside influence, need to be wary of the risks that marketing services can bring.
Operating, effectively, as an agency means working with brands in a very different way. You’re no longer simply selling space, you’re selling commercial creativity alongside your content and production skills, campaign management and ultimately, customer satisfaction. Those are very different mindsets for publishers previously focused on meeting the information needs of specific readership.
Customer service is now on the table and the content teams that kept your audience happy might not be quite so good at keeping clients happy.
Great journalism and beautiful layouts are fundamentally audience bait to advertisers. In these times of content marketing, it makes absolute sense for publishers to create better ways of catching the reader’s attention on behalf of advertising clients. But publishers must be careful to make sure custom content operations don’t damage the quality and credibility of their core content – The danger is that if the great journalism goes away, the publication’s credibility will go and any hope of reader attention with it.