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For content publishers to be successful, it's clear they must learn to monetize their content - not just create it. Nowhere is that more evident than with traditional magazine brands like Time, Inc. For them, the key to success seems to be thinking and acting more like ad agencies than publishers.

And if they can't think like an agency on their own, they'll acquire one instead.

Time iPad magazine

Amidst a sales and marketing reorg, Time, Inc. CEO Jack Griffin explained that the company's strategy to boost sagging ad revenues involves a greater focus on offering marketing services. 

Acquisitions on the horizon?

Time Inc’s newly-realigned sales and marketing teams will focus on developing custom video ads and branded content. But Griffin made it clear that acquisitions were on the table, telling the WSJ:

"We're in a unique position with deep pockets to be able to do that."

The strategy of bringing marketing talent, technology and expertise in-house has served Griffin well. As president of Meredith Corp.'s National Media Group, he spearheaded the acquisitions of digital agencies like New Media Strategies, to help form Meredith Integrated Marketing.

Evidence of a real paradigm shift

Digital and print publishers have always been able to create custom branded content (for example, those “special advertising sections” in print mags), but the shift to actually bringing expertise in-house in an aim to capture more ad dollars is unique to the past few years

One by one, publishers have acquired specific ad properties:

Meredith:

  • The Hyperfactory (mobile ads) 2010
  • Big Communications (healthcare PR/marketing) 2008
  • Directive Corp (database marketing/CRM) 2007
  • Healia (health-based SEM/SEO) 2007
  • New Media Strategies (interactive marketing) 2007

Hearst:

  • iCrossing (online advertising) 2010
  • Answerology (Q&A ad platform/social site) 2008
  • Kaboodle (social shopping service) 2007

Gannett:

  • Ripple6 (social media marketing) 2008
  • ShopLocal (e-commerce services) 2008
  • PointRoll (rich media and interactive ads) 2005

The precedent has been set, and now Time, Inc. seems ready to join the trend.

Worth noting that this is the model that has made nimble digital publishing houses like Federated Media successful from the onset. So at this point, seems that the days of a completely separate publishing/advertising model are over. Publishers need to think like marketers if they're going to thrive (in digital or print). Still, it does raise the question of where and how interactive agencies fit into this particular marketing equation.

Tameka Kee

Published 7 December, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at tamekakee.com or follow her on Twitter

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