A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era

By Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media

Earlier today I gave the opening keynote at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado. We all know that we’re in the midst of an ever-changing media environment where threats to our business models are everywhere. The bad news for the industry is that Google and Facebook are a glaring duopoly, digital ad revenue models are under attack and other revenue streams haven’t materialized at scale.

Believe it or not, there’s hope on the horizon. The digital revolution is really just getting started. Think about this – the transition to digital advertising, with 65% of total spend spend on traditional media, has a long way to go. While Google and Facebook may have won Round 1, the real fight is coming up, as $250 billion in brand advertising locked up in TV and print floods into digital across the coming years. Publishers were built for brand advertising, with great content, beautiful environments and strong, trusted brands. Meanwhile, platforms are showing more and more vulnerabilities due to fake news and environments that aren’t “brand safe.” Publishers can still carve out valuable, lasting businesses, but they need to execute a clear plan.

Here is my 11-step program:

1. Obsess over differentiation

2. Become a brand management whiz

3. Fight (until your last breath) to keep a direct relationship with your audience

4. Be tough and picky about platform partnerships

5. Reinvent brand advertising and wean yourself off programmatic

6. Productize your data

7. Define the right video strategy for you

8. Think global, but operate locally

9. Fragment yourself into as many niches as possible

10. Do things that platforms can’t do

11. Be relentless about talent and execution

I wanted to share my full presentation, which you will find below. With a well-thought-out and executed plan, we can change the current course.