Last week was a 'landmark' week in the premium content wars on the internet. The 'startup' tech website Re/ code was purchased by Vox Media, which already has SB Nation, The Verge, Eater, Curbed, Racked, and Vox.com under their premium content umbrella. Re/ Code was started in January 2014 by some 'tech news insiders' Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, who got 'rounds of funding' based on their names/respect in their fields. In just 1.5 years, they got a massive payday of Vox stock, the ability to 'reach new audiences' with their passionate message, and buzzworthy buzz in #acquisition headlines.
This is 'important news' because we are in the golden age of premium branded content conglomerates. We must document every move that every 'major player' makes as they continue to chase not just pageviews, but to construct companies that create and monetize cutting edge ways to monetize cutting edge content.
Re/Code 'only' has 1.5 million pageviews compared to Vox Media's 53.2 million. However, its 'strong brand' as a thoughtfluencing event planner gave it 'great value' to a media company that needs its expertise in throwing 'immersive experiences' in the post-TED-talk/SXSW world.
Of course, I am not an expert in this field because I basically 'gave away' the remnants of my dead content farm just months ago, instead of putting more effort into 'adding value' to the world and/or my 'media company.' There is so much talk about Vox, Vice, Buzzfeed, and other websites that 'are more than just websites' aiming to get acquired by a legacy media company or transitioning to become their own legacy brands of rising generations.
These are my takeaways from this important landmark in the digital media conglomerate wars.
Having a content farm is not enough. You must be able to #program the livespace.
It's easy to get pageviews. Advertising networks can buy pageviews on content farms with endless content, siphoned from tons of Facebook referral traffic and those annoying things at the bottom of every webpage on the internet. However, the ability to #program events that matter is rare. Your media brand MUST extend into the livespace, just like Re/code does with their media events. This touches humans, but also gives advertisers a fun place to go when they grace you with a 'major advertising buy.'
Creating a transcendent human experience is the proper context to create content that is valuable in the eyes of advertising buyers. For example, it's not enough to be a web brand like Pitchfork. A #livespace activity like Pitchfork Music Festival extends your brand into the #livespace, resonating with the non-internet-users of the world. This is the richest content possible, reaffirming the 'niche' that your content silo produces.
There are plenty of banner ads on the internet that people already ignore. ViewViews are the new Pageviews [via IRL goals].
Always sell your niche blog because it can only scale so far.
From what I understand, Re/code is 'more than just another tech blog' that is a time elapsed advertorial for the most popular tech products, apps, and tech-wave companies. It is 'hard hitting journalism' that pulls back the curtain on Silicon Valley. It is a great journalistic undertaking that has redefined the thousands of other tech blogs posting about Uber, Google, Apple, GoPro and AirBNB.
It doesn't matter if a snarky internet writer does/doesn't believe in the brand. The decision makers who pay for acquisitions with stock gave Re/code the ultimate validation with their decision to purchase the media company.
You MUST be the biggest believer in your brand is differentiated from the rest of the nearly identical media companies out there. Everyone is 'angling' for the ability to claim they have the most unique coverage of anything. However, when your company has the opportunity to get acquired, it is important to remember that your company is insignificant and can't compete on a large scale. It needs help. It can't do everything. I'm sure it can barely efficiently run Wordpress while serving video ads, collecting advertising dollars, serving custom ad zones, and paying your full time staff.
Sell out. The big media company is better than you at everything.
Getting ACQUIRED is the brand recognition/validation that your content farm needed.
No one really cares about any website. Unless another website that calls itself a 'media conglomerate' buys it. Then other websites write about it. Then the people who invested in the media company feel better because they read something about it on another media website that may or may not have a billion dollar valuation.
There's no way Re/ Code is more than just some sort of elaborate joke. I mean, it's a .net, which is basically as relevant as a .cool domain. I guess they got Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to appear at their conference before there was an oversaturation of tech lords participating in cloud video that 'inspires' middle class people.
Remember, an acquisition is an introduction of your brand to new markets. Embrace the moment and read every headline, thinkpiece, and recapped news blurb.
Blog brands are DEAD-er than ever.
I remember when the idea of 'blogging' was presented as a liberating way for one human to have their voice get heard. Then 'bloggers' eventually built content farms, where their original voice was morphed into a 24-hour content production factory. After Re/ code built such a killer brand in under 2 years, the 'hot' new gimmick for driven young humans is now the creation of 'digital media startups.' Figure out how to #growth_hack your #influencing media brand, until you are acquired because your niche is hot (aka easy to monetize).
The idea of only one voice on your media platform is a major bottleneck to achieving scale. 'Blogging' is technologically irrelevant because you are probably relying on an out of date 'free' content management system that isn't built to be monetized by today's standards, like Vox Media's own CMS called Chorus.
Every media company needs infinite monetary streams.
There are tons of 'smart people' running these media companies, preparing to become 'hella rich' from not just getting eyeballs on content, but effectively monetizing the eyeballs. There's more to it than just CLiCkBaiTiN'! They are inventing the revenue streams of tomorrow, creating a fully integrated media consumption experience for future humans.
Re/code's quick rise can provide a roadmap for all digital media startups. Remember, you can only scale to your limited ceiling before it's time to let the conglomerates have their way with your brand.
Leave behind the idea of a content farm, which is is so0o0o 2k13. Media companies (like this one I am writing on) must continue to innovate the human experience in order to monetize our human desires for being culturally connected to an outside world. We are witnessing the arms race to become the next inescapable, polarizing media company that created the competitive solutions it needs to survive and eliminate/marginalize competitors.