Will 2022 be the year of blurring lines? Will we be asking "what is a media company", and "what is a tech company?", or even "what's the difference between the two?". But most importantly, we'll be asking "how are you doing", because it's been a tough year, and we hope you're okay. Right, on with the show.
If you were lucky enough to catch out most recent #MarTechFest Dial Up with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, you'd have been given the low-down on all things tech and media.
Digital media and martech technologies have revolutionised the way companies connect with consumers. And all this on top of the pandemic massively accelerating all types of ecommerce and disruptive technologies, and media consumption. So, it might be the right time to combine forces.
Moving on from 2021
But for Joe, there's been stagnation in terms of innovation, and in terms of mergers and acquisitions. There's been quite a few B2C media companies who have made big moves, but not proportionately to the amount of cash in the industry.
So, the rarity of these acquisitions is considered, by Joe, to be a "failure". Basically, for a huge number of companies, 2021 was a year flushed with opportunities that weren't taken, especially in the consumer side.
'21 was set up perfectly for enterprises, they had all this cash...they want to build these audiences, but don't want to go through the 12-18 months to do that. So let's just go out and buy them"
Robert agrees, and believes it's all down to a move towards "check the box marketing". This basically describes the lack of risk taking he's seen in the industry this year.
So, with the world coming away from the initial pandemic restrictions, but still experiencing the changes the pandemic has left behind, it's likely companies will turn to media companies to adapt to this enduring consumer change.
And in this new world, there's no place for 'check the box marketing'. Instead, we'll see companies branching out, blurring the lines between tech and media. So, what did Joe and Rob think about these upcoming, and current, buddy-ups?
Buddy Up: Where Media and Tech Companies Combine
Do Robert and Joe expect the buddying up to continue?
Well, when asked "Do you think this’ll catch up in 2022?”, Joe answers “I thought this was going to catch up six years ago.”
"To answer your question: Everyone’s a tech company now, or at least they think they are. At the same time, everyone's a media company. At least our process is.”
Basically, if you look at most marketing departments today, they should be looking awfully similar to media companies.
Hubspot has been doing this for a long time, especially when we saw their acquisition of The Hustle.
Joe thinks, because of the abundance of cash, and lack of patience, we’ll be seeing less audience building, more buying. And there are a lot of media platforms to buy.
“Whatever your industry is, there’s a blogger, a podcaster, a YouTuber, a Twitch streamer that is available for sale. Right now. At whatever price.”
So, in this 'influencer wars' era, hiring a single influencer is like hiring a radio station or tv channel in the past. Influencers or bloggers are basically one-person media companies.
This means all the rules of media companies are applicable to them. They have their own audience, they spend their own money to attract more traffic, and they make money via ads. So, companies have been dabbling into this space without a second thought.
It's not unfathomable, then, that businesses would move to do this on a bigger scale. It's all a case of buying a company which provides the knowledge to create big, impactful content, and who come with a pre-made audience.
Joe thinks you'll see media companies go out and buy these media enterprises, but you’ll also see media companies going out and buying tech and software companies.
We think of a B2C company and a media company as different, but if you look at the marketing behind it, this is “just a perception. We’re all doing the same thing”.
Plus, the marketing department itself should be a “profit centre”.
"So we’re all selling media, and we’re all selling products and services, So what’s the difference?”
For Robert, it's a case of looking at what’s happened in the recent past. What we're seeing is that a lot of the audience building has become just as important as products and services. It's all about becoming multi-revenue generating.
Then, it’s a question of building or buying your content studio or media company. As a result, media operations are becoming an incredibly important part of marketing strategy.
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, producing content is now mandatory for brands. It's what he calls the "baseline".
It literally doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what industry you operate in, if you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist."
But we'll see tech companies moving outside small time content, with places like Nike and Amazon already buying external media studios. That means while influencers are moving beyond marketing companies for their revenue, turning instead to creator coins and NFTs, marketing companies are doing something similar, looking bigger, and going their own way.
And all this momentum is down to the changing way customers consume content. Right now, it's all about video. I mean, it's also all about digital artwork, NFTs, AR and the Metaverse, but we'll start with video. In fact:
“Video is the most powerful communication tool available to the modern seller. Any salesperson not leveraging video is missing an opportunity to communicate effectively with their prospects and customers," says Eric S. Yuan Founder, CEO of Zoom.
But onto disruptive media studios. We've even seen places like Facebook snap up virtual reality studio after virtual reality studio. They added one more to their portfolio Friday with the acquisition of Seattle-based BigBox VR, in June this year.