Media brands

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 December 2018

Media brands facing a lack of importance

Media brands are coming a long way from arriving on your doorstep or mailbox. Because they had to. Or they’ll die.

We’ve considered the plight of media brands for some time. Understanding, as most do now, that our internet-based environment makes many of them obsolete. (For many, social media remains the number one news source.)

Many were also slow to adapt as some survivors put up pay walls on their sites long after they were offering free access. In most cases, that doesn’t work because the cat is already out of the bag. New York Magazine, which runs many popular sites like Vulture, is now moving to a pay-to-read model. But, after years of free access, will readers think it’s worth it? (I’m dubious.)

media brandsWith all that in mind, two developments over the last week demonstrate a renewed focus from two media brands. The Los Angeles Times is launching a TV show for Spectrum subscribers as more and more media outlets transition to video. And Time magazine, after Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne bought the publication, is investing heavily into the digital format of the once-powerful magazine.

Are media brands figuring it out? It depends. Rarely before have they had to think about their outlets as brands. In the past, they just were.

“But success depends on whether consumers find the brands important.”

Media brands must invest in their brands to survive

Now you see The New York Times airing national TV spots, positioning itself as the nation’s publication of record. (Which it actually is.) When did that ever happen before?

The New York Times has a brand. Does Time magazine? It did once, and the Benioffs certainly think it can recapture that. They recently posted new job openings in technology, sales and marketing.

The tactics these media brands are employing are useful. The industry as a whole needs to be more forward thinking.

But success depends on whether consumers find the brands important. Especially when free access was all the range years ago. Outlets thought they could fund themselves through a new source of advertising. Turns out the loss, especially from classified advertising, was too great.

But what about the smaller dailies or specialized magazines? They face a much more difficult climb. Because, by nature of their limited reach, they are often deemed less important.

Digital tactics will help them. But they must invest in their brands to reclaim any importance. Or they will die.

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