Product Is The New Content

Moderator Melissa Diaz, Director, Ad Product Marketing, Meredith Corp.; Panelists Bill Allman, Chief Digital Officer, Smithsonian Enterprises; Dennis Strong, SVP, Head of Media Sales, Source Media; Rameez Tase, VP of Audience Development & Insight, Axios, and Yanna Wilson-Fischer, Circulation Marketing Director, The Economist

Allman:We started at 500K uniques, just crested 10M. What to do with this great audience? 7 - 10% of audience produces most of hits. We’re quasi about the world but why would someone come to us every day? What’s the Smithsonian version of news you can use. We also run tours, go to Antarctica, we can take you there. How to match up media audience with product?

Strong: Source Media B2B spanning financial services side, going across into healthcare. Challenges we’ve seen over past couple of years. Print to digital. What really is digital. Hear about audio, etc. Source focuses energy on subscription stream, live event shows, market services. Only two ways people montetize. Paying for content and market services, trying to bring these together, digital banking, crypto currency. How to find bankers? Search, subscription model.

Tase: Axios covering business, politics intersection. 5% of people that start an article get to the bottom. Want company to be aligned with consumers. No subscription model yet. No incentive to click bait you, trick you. Can we get this format aligned with new tech. Can we fund it with high-quality information. Native advertising and on-site ads. 

Wilson-Fischer: 175th anniversary. Student essay contest. Guest editors. 24 hour live event Hong Kong, London and New York. How to ride wave created by inviting Steve Bannon. Brand awareness. Market, tech, freedom, we talk about all the time. First time we had a brand inititative with everyone behind it. Events were consumer events.

Diaz: How are we getting in front of our audience. Finding topics people are interested in, funding them. Content studios have to play off editorial. Big influencer products. Recipes. how to leverage audiences, monetize it.

Allman: Native is low hit rate. Have to work really hard.

Diaz: Difference between sponsorship and native. It’s not as low margin for us, as it seems. Now, it’s really thought out, turn key, got to monetize, on videos there’s quite a return there. Made more sense to level with social platforms. Quite a lot of life in native, custom content, sponsorship.

Allman: I’ve just come woke on this things. Playing checkers and then chess. Figuring out who that 7% is. All you vendors, come tell me but there’s a thing on my head written, ”I don’t have any money.” (Crowd chuckles.) As print, our magazine is successful. I’m in a period of discernment. We have to completely tech up, don’t have the tools or the people to do it.

Strong: Over the last few months, brought someone in from strategy standpoint. On data side, looking at three revenue streams, where’s the overlap? What do we want from the audience rather than what do we want to give the audience. What are the commonalities across the audience? P&Ls. When company is behind a product, they find a way to make P&L make sense. Strip back all the nonsense, hard cost, soft cost. 

Tase: As valuable as tech tools, shifting dialog. Comparative lifetime values. Subscriber value 350 times what it would be for a social view. Axios is less than two years old. Allies at your organizations?

Wilson-Fischer: Sometimes a matter of opinion shot down by stakeholders. Stay away from that. In last 12 months listening to subscribers. That’s where the real data insight comes from. You can’t argue with facts about what people are saying and on social media. Very valuable. Here’s how we target this market. Often people don’t listen to their audience, focused on building it.

Diaz: Limitiations. Ideas. 

Tase: Split up platforms into two categories. Brand marketing to prime users. May download an app. We can use social, search tools to drive extremely efficient costs per. Over a million subscriptions. Average subscribes to three newsletters.

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