As creative studios remain shuttered, brands are automating content updates

Today more than ever, it’s important that all sides of a publisher’s business — from content to its technology components to its commercial teams —  are running in sync with their performance goals and inherently tied to one another. 

For publishers to survive in an ever-changing digital landscape — especially in trying times and during high-stakes moments — they often need to rethink their business models. To optimize and increase revenue, building new strategies includes leaning into automation, technology and streamlined workflows.  

Minute Media, owner of seven digital content brands covering everything from sports and gaming to culture and entertainment, is one publisher that’s enacted these approaches, designing revenue-driving solutions that service multiple teams. Digiday spoke with three Minute Media executives across their content, tech-and-product and commercial teams to get a sense of how this approach is playing out for the company and its partners.

Digiday: How has your company’s use of technology and automation evolved during the pandemic?

Matan Har, CCO: As we all face the challenges of COVID-19, our team has had to be savvier with less, including creating content from home instead of within our video studios or on-set. The lack of live sports and events also brings its own challenges. As a result, video output has declined. Luckily, technology has enabled us to supplement our existing content while also automating SEO, semantic-content matching and dynamic content creation — all of which has taken some of the strain off of our team.

Digiday: What have you learned about the impact of technology on team performance? 

Har: Over the years, I’d say the biggest thing we learned was that a lack of communication between teams can lead to inefficient workflows and mediocre results. The most important thing that came out of these learnings was how crucial it is to use a singular technology that services the needs of all three departments —  content, tech-and-product and commercial. After building and implementing this solution in-house, we’ve been able to free up time and resources while increasing audience development and revenue.

Digiday: What roles do tech, product and content play in Minute Media’s go-to-market strategy?

Rich Routman, President and CRO: Tech and product play a huge role, including the ability to create engaging user experiences in tandem with our advertising partners. They also enable us to distribute branded content at scale. Lastly, the insights that technology enables are pivotal to our commercial business. We’re not only able to optimize campaigns as a result of real-time analytics, but we also use data to guide our strategies. In addition to branded-content development, we work closely with our content team to identify and develop strategic partnerships and acquisitions that will drive increased traffic and engagement, which in turn, results in increased revenue opportunities.

Digiday: The media industry is always in motion, how can publishers future-proof against the more challenging turns it can take?

Routman: One of the most crucial things is to diversify your revenue, and in order to successfully do that, your sales team should be more than just a traditional ad sales team. They should also be thinking about content syndication opportunities as well as new distribution channels. By leaning into partnerships with other like-minded publishers and tech providers — even ones we may consider competitors — we all win. By doing so, we’re able to focus on our own strengths while allowing others to fill in the gaps.

Digiday: How can publishers better build products and tech that meet the needs of many stakeholders at once?  

Sharon Weiss, CTO: As publishers ourselves, we’re able to draw from our own experience and build solutions from there. We then test those solutions on our own content brands, and, once perfected, offer them to our partners. And while it may sound like a simple solution, it’s also important to ask around. Diligently seek-out partner feedback, network and swap ideas with external partners. There’s a lot that can be gained from other points-of-view, experiences and expertise. Host and attend meet-ups, ask for product demos, etc. More is more. 

Digiday: As you develop new publishing solutions, what emphasis do you put on product flexibility? 

Weiss: It’s important to understand that one size does not fit all. It’s better to build innovative, smart solutions for the most common use cases, and accept that they may not service every need or partner — but it’s better to have really strong products that scale. With that said, your products should be built with flexibility in mind, and your teams should be open to pivoting when needed. In our industry, algorithms change, and so does user behavior, so you must constantly evolve if you want to keep up and stay relevant. These are volatile and ever-evolving times in our industry; we are committed and focused on helping publishers, like ourselves, grow and navigate the landscape using product and technology to power publishing-as-a-service. 

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