December 13, 2023

The MediaFeed Manifesto

There are no limits to the types of content that brands can create. The only requirement is that the content must genuinely appeal to the target consumer.

Michael Schreiber

Welcome to the first post of The Media Kit, a publication dedicated to the ongoing evolution of the new content ecosystem. (If you’re looking for an actual media kit or other information about MediaFeed, please reach out and we’ll send one) We’ll be writing about developments in this arena, speaking to experts and generally interesting people and sharing some of our predictions for the future.  The following is an adaptation of something I wrote several months ago for our team about why we do what we do here at MediaFeed.  Thanks for reading.   -MS

Since the creation of the printing press in 1436, right through to the launch of radio and television in the early and mid-twentieth century, the power to deliver mass media to the people resided with a small cadre of gatekeepers. In order to get your message to the people, whether that message was entertaining, informative, or commercial in nature, you needed the publishers and broadcast networks.

The old gatekeeper paradigm put brands at a real disadvantage. They had to rely on publishers and networks who owned the means of distribution to amplify their brand messages through advertising, and the content around the ads ensured (hopefully) that there were people watching. Most frustrating for brands, however, was the fact that measuring the impact of the ads could be very difficult. It was impossible to know how many people really saw an ad in a newspaper or magazine, and despite the best efforts of the Nielsens of the world, television commercials still represent the best time to go to the bathroom. 

The internet changed that smoke and mirrors game. Ads became trackable, which meant brands now had visibility into how many people were actually seeing and more importantly, clicking on those ads. And once brands had real visibility into the true impact of their ad spend, they had leverage to force lower prices. Now, networks had to push more content with more ads to make the same money. More pageviews. More content. But not necessarily better content. Just more. Stickier. More addictive. It’s been cat and mouse for 20 years now.  Keep people clicking, make it harder to skip commercials, pop ups, grow impressions at all costs. 

Yet, as all these games are played to further confuse this utterly broken traditional media ad market, brands often miss the more profound disruption: namely that, thanks to the internet, they now possess the same power to distribute content as the content creators they’ve been paying all these years. EVERYONE, from big companies to individuals, has equal power to distribute content globally. 

Some brands have taken this power shift to heart, perhaps none more than Red Bull, the Austrian energy drink company that has created an incredibly popular, multi-channel adventure sports platform that has catapulted Red Bull into the branding stratosphere. 

“Brands need to take the phrase ‘acting like a publisher’ literally,” said Red Bull’s founding CEO Dietrich Mateschitz. 

Gerrit Meier, who leads Red Bull’s media network, takes this idea even further, drawing a clear distinction between Red Bull’s approach to content and traditional marketing.

“We don’t believe in traditional marketing; we don’t do big television commercials, we’ve never done that,” Meier told the website “We believe that we can activate through events and great content, and that’s where we’d rather spend our money. So doing that and having brand relevance absolutely still drives the core business. But we also now do a lot of things where you’re like, ‘wow, that has nothing to do with the brand’, but it still really makes good content.”

While Red Bull may be the most striking example of a brand going all-in on content, they are far from alone. Companies like Apple and Amazon have developed their own streaming networks, and a wide array of businesses have invested heavily in the creation of news and educational content. Many businesses can’t expect to meaningfully compete without a robust content strategy to drive both brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, non-branded search traffic. The fintech space in particular is rife with examples. Then there’s the meteoric growth and subsequent correction in the podcasting space. And the world of independent bloggers and writers grows and grows.

Lagging behind, however, have been those with potentially the most upside: commercial, direct to consumer, lifestyle brands. Some are dipping their toes into the content game with the occasional thought leadership article or branded content campaign. They may even have an SEO strategy that involves the creation of purely educational content. But these attempts generally siloed and operate within the old media paradigm we described earlier: with brands forced to leverage other people’s content in the form of mentions or links to get their message out. In other words, they are renting other platforms’ audiences, without really developing and growing their own.

The reality is that there are no limits to the types of content that brands can create. The only requirement is that the content must genuinely appeal to the target consumer, and in the case of editorial and educational content, it must be accurate and objective.  Beyond that, as Red Bull has thoroughly demonstrated, the content need not have anything directly to do with the product the brand is selling, though it often will be at least tangentially related. A sneaker company might create a publication that is a foremost authority on amateur club soccer. They might even develop a reality series on the subject. Maybe a movie. A podcast for sure. There’s no limit, really.

Our role in this as journalists, strategists and creators in general stretches beyond strategy and content ideation. We are all in the process of building a new ecosystem and there’s much to learn from one another as we take this on. This publication, The Media Kit, will be a repository of ideas relating to this work. If have ideas to share in the form of an article or a conversation, or examples of compelling work to share, please reach out to us here.

Michael Schreiber

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