Digiday Research: Publishers have checked out on platforms

June 21, 2021

By Max Willens

It seems crazy now, but there was a time when publishers imagined they would one day publish most of their content natively on different social platforms, nurturing a symbiotic relationship between old and new media companies.

Things didn’t work out that way. Even as platform audiences continue to swell, their ad products mature and advertisers continue to pour money into them, publishers today consider most platforms neither a valuable source of revenue nor an important channel for brand-building, new Digiday Research reveals. 

Outside of Facebook, which half of the publishers said was valuable for driving revenue, no other platform was described that way by more than a third of the publishers that post content to them; exactly 33% of the publishers that post content to YouTube described it as at least a “valuable” source of revenue. 


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“It doesn’t make sense to focus on those platforms versus getting someone onto your site,” said the head of audience development at one large digital publisher, who asked not to be identified while discussing business partners. “When you’re talking about getting 30 to 50 cents on the dollar from a YouTube or a Twitter Amplify, it’s not as valuable as on-platform.”

The social platform described as valuable for revenue by the fourth-highest share was Snapchat, but according to our survey results, a non-representative number of publishers use the platform; just 20 survey respondents said they publish content on Snapchat.

The brand-building side does not offer a much sunnier picture. Outside of Instagram, which was described as useful for brand-building by nearly two-thirds of the publishers that use it, every other platform had, at best, half of its users call it valuable for branding. 

(Twitch proved an exception to this rule, with two-thirds of the publishers that use it saying it was valuable for brand-building, but only six survey respondents said they use Twitch.) 


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Those numbers themselves may even be inflated by the notoriously nebulous metrics many use to define branding. “I think brand is a fuzzy concept to begin with,” said Meena Thiruvengandam, the former global head of audience development at Bloomberg and a current media consultant. “Some publishers define ‘brand-building’ as ‘anything that’s not a revenue generator.’”

Thiruvengandam noted that, several years ago, it was not uncommon for publishers to approach every new platform that appeared with an open mind and a willingness to look past pretty basic questions. Those days are over. “It’s harder to get executives to allocate significant budgets to experiment,” Thiruvengandam said. “You’ve got to have proof that there’s something there.”

That newfound skepticism may explain why many of the emerging platforms Digiday asked about in this survey did not gather representative numbers of responses. Just nine respondents said they had experimented with Clubhouse; six had tried Twitch.

It likely also contributes to the recent trend of publishers looking to automate and syndicate as much of their social content distribution as possible. Publishers such …read more

Source:: Digiday


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