Publishers Turn to the Crowd
It’s not everyday that a publisher is sold for $175 million. That’s why Turner’s purchase of Bleacher Report raised some eyebrows.
The lesson of Bleacher Report’s success, and that of Huffington Post’s as well, is it pays for publishers to take a page out of the platform playbook and get other people to create content. Bleacher Report, which relies on some 6,000 mostly unpaid writers to crank out about 1,000 articles a day, has raised $40 million since 2007 and brings in about $30 million a year in revenue. If Facebook and Twitter have taught publishers anything, it’s that it’s nice to have hundreds of millions of people cranking out content without calling out sick or asking for a raise.
Two old-school publications, Golf Digest and The Washington Post, are trying their hands at turning to their audience as content creators. They both bet they can augment their solid brands with low-cost (and, hopefully, high-quality) content created by the masses — for free.
Golf Digest has created Golf Digest Course Finder, a crowdsourced site that gives user recommendations — from text to photos — blended with editorial from the magazine about golf courses around the nation. Tapping into the collective reader, which ComScore puts at 505,00 uniques in July, is a new phenomenon for the outlet. According to the publication’s brand editor Bob Carney, in the past, the hurdle to comment was too high as the site’s primary function was to generate subscriptions, not engage its readers.
“If you get in a relationship with someone, sooner or later, they’ll like what you’re selling, and chances are you’ll be in contact with them,” Carney said. “If you put up a wall first, you won’t get interaction, and in the long run, they may not subscribe anyhow. So it’s been an education for us. It’s much more open, and we’re starting to appreciate the content people are getting us.”
The Washington Post is also taking a crowdsourcing mentality with its new aptly named site, “Crowd Sourced.” There are two verticals, a social technology page which looks at the influence of social media in society and an American competition page focused on business innovation. How it works: Post reporters pose a question to its readers on the site, and the readers answer and vote on the best responses.
While other traditional publishers have tapped its readers for help — remember the Sarah Palin email dumps — relying on readers to provide content that helps inform and shape the news is a novel idea.
“It’s been an ongoing conversation on how to create tools and products and platforms to engage readers with our newsroom,” said Cory Haik, executive producer at The Washington Post. “We’re working closely with the business side of our company and found that advertisers and sponsors are eager to be associated with products like this.”
Other older publishers, like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, have robust commenting on their sites, but neither looks to the crowd to create content. It should be noted, however, that the New York Times, in 2010, did ask its readers to take photographs about a moment in time for its Lens Blog.
Advertisers seem to be, if not gung-ho, at least interested in the appeal of connecting with readers in this type of format. FedEx is a launch sponsor for Golf Digest Course Finder, and SAP and GE Capital are launch sponsors of Crowd Sourced.
“Advertisers and sponsors want to be associated with intelligent debate around those topics,” Haik said. “User engagement is important to advertisers — not just time on site, but meaningful time on site. That’s what these crowdsourcing projects do. It’s a win win.”
Cheat Sheet: At IAB Podcast Upfront, diverse voices take center stage while podcast advertising revenue and audiences boom
Most of the companies that presented at the IAB Podcast Upfront signaled they had or were going to add more diversity to their programming, both in hosts and content.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: What media companies’ latest earnings reports say about the state of the industry
Media companies' Q1 earnings reports signaled a continued return to business as usual — for better or worse, depending on the company's digital business.
‘Brands tend to be selective’: OMG report offers options to media buyers facing upfront inventory crunch
With a tight upfront TV marketplace expected, one agency group is recommending alternatives in video and CTV.
SponsoredHow The Company Store is reimagining customer experiences for pandemic-era growth
Throughout the pandemic, some retail categories have been inherently successful. Home furnishings and décor are among them; with consumers spending so much more time at home, updates and renovations flourished. Criteo data from the first half of 2020 showed sales for items like outdoor furniture sets up 434% year over year, with other home items […]
‘You’re fixing a number, not changing the culture’: Confessions of a media exec on diversity quotas
In the rush to improve diversity rates, businesses are in danger of overlooking more fundamental ways to sustain inclusivity in the workplace, according to our latest Confessions interviewee.
‘Direct revenue driver’: How local broadcaster News 12 is partnering with Google to build a younger audience
Local broadcaster used support and funding from Google News Initiative to build a new tool that can automatically identify and feed video content into new website verticals.