Every Company Is a Technology Company First and a Media Company Second

Search the phrase “each firm is a media firm” and you’ll get a litany of articles and posts from social media influencers about how digital content material creation expertise are the important thing to producing income within the community age. Their argument is that you just win buy consideration by creating content material that will get discovered by potential prospects by means of search or social media. But when you consider it extra deeply, it turns into obvious that whereas content material is crucial, the expertise we use to find and devour content material is the larger, extra sustainable play.

What number of firms are you able to depend that reached billion greenback unicorn standing by relying completely on a third-party expertise supplier for entry to their buyer base? In the event you rely upon Amazon or a social community, you’re acting on another person’s stage, and they’ll provide the hook at any time. Clearly, having the digital media literacy to create compelling content material is necessary, however fashionable on-line locations and buyer contact data are far more profitable belongings. And that is the important thing distinction to acknowledge when making a digital pivot.

Nonetheless, there are nonetheless extra small companies reliant on Amazon to resell their wares than on Shopify, although Amazon resellers can solely promote at Amazon.com, whereas Shopify resellers can host an internet retailer on their personal net area. There are 9.8 million Amazon marketplace sellers versus 500,000 Shopify stores. On Amazon market, resellers pay a month-to-month subscription charge, a gross sales fee of 8%–15% proper off the highest (Amazon calls them referral charges), success charges, and a bunch of different miscellaneous expenses. Shopify additionally expenses a month-to-month subscription charge, however no gross sales commissions, and it has no success choices. And Shopify doesn’t withhold your buyer’s e-mail handle. Amazon does.

It’s content material at an owned on-line vacation spot that’s a transferable asset, not thousands and thousands of followers.

The GrubHub enterprise mannequin may be very a lot the identical. The corporate takes a 15% gross sales fee proper off the highest as effectively, plus a 10% supply fee, whereas basically double-dipping by charging prospects the identical charges, though it calls them by one other title. So when you’re a restaurant proprietor, you may publish the best footage on the earth of your meals, however you’re all the time going to be reliant on the meals supply app for entry to your prospects and you’re all the time going to offer it 15% of your revenue margin. And GrubHub keeps the customer’s mobile phone number all to themselves too. Similar deal on Uber Eats. That approach you’re all the time going to be reliant on their platform to do enterprise, which makes them the sustainable ones, not you.

It’s the identical state of affairs on the social networks, which incentivize on-line influencers to create content material for his or her platforms in change for a slice of the promoting income. Final month Clubhouse introduced its Creator First Accelerator Program that will help you promote your exhibits and get “help in constructing your viewers.” However it’s not your viewers. It’s theirs. And Clubhouse can throttle it up or down at any time. Creator programs at TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Substack are a option to construct your private model, not a sustainable enterprise. As a result of if you share your content material on a social community, you keep possession, however you forfeit any meaningful usage rights.

The social networks all have language within the phrases of service insurance policies that grant them a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable worldwide license to show your content material in perpetuity. So even when you do determine to depart them in some unspecified time in the future, they nonetheless get to retain your content material. On Clubhouse, one early adopter who labored tirelessly to assist develop the service’s person base from the very starting, and who at one time had one of many greatest audiences, lamented to me that a latest algorithm change successfully halved his viewers.

Content material could also be king, however expertise is the queen. And she or he guidelines the throne. Final week Sara Fischer at Axios reported that DraftKings, the official sports betting partner of the NFL, put in Brian Angiolet, former senior vp and chief enterprise officer at Verizon, as the corporate’s first chief media officer to supervise the acquisition of content material firms. DraftKings is buying media firms as a result of “…proudly owning content material could possibly be a cheaper long-term car for accruing prospects than paid advertising and marketing.” In an effort to be a fascinating media acquisition candidate, it’s not simply content material that issues. It’s content material at an owned on-line vacation spot that’s a transferable asset, not thousands and thousands of followers, as Trump realized when he was deplatformed from Twitter and Fb.

More and more, constructing a sustainable on-line enterprise requires an owned media presence supported by expertise that doesn’t have its hand in your pocket, withhold e-mail addresses, or steal your buyer base with an algorithm tweak. Maybe that’s why WordPress, the content material administration system constructed on open-source code, powers roughly 30% of all web sites.

So when you’re gearing up in your a digital pivot, acknowledge that constructing a sustainable digital enterprise requires an owned media presence on a platform you management, at an internet vacation spot you personal. In any other case, you’re not constructing a digital enterprise. You’re constructing another person’s.


Eric Schwartzman is a digital marketing consultant with structured applications for serving to people and organizations pivot to digital advertising and marketing. His new ebook The Digital Pivot: Secrets of Online Marketing explains in easy language the best way to pivot from the outdated to the brand new approach of doing enterprise.