Brands As Publishers & Publishers Are Marketers

The trend towards “brands as publishers” over the past year has an increasing number of businesses entering the world of content in ways that are creating new opportunities for online marketing. The notion of brands publishing editorial is nothing new of course and has been known as Custom Media or Custom Publishing for years.

For example, P&G‘s “invention” of the radio and TV Soap Opera or both “Food and Wine” and “Travel and Leisure” magazines published by American Express.  Interestingly, corporate editorial content publishing often overlooks the value of SEO as a way to extend reach and grow readership.

Publishers on the other hand, are becoming much better marketers. While online and offline media have always been reliant on growing distribution and readership to warrant advertising based business models, the changing nature of media, shifts in consumer behaviors and increased competition has warranted even more marketing savvy to capture, maintain and grow readership.

For example, it’s become pretty standard for more progressive media companies likeTribune CompanyTurner Broadcasting and Hearst Magazines to have their reporters and writers employ SEO best practices to drive more search traffic to stories on newspaper and other media websites.  Tactics like writing story headlines as literal, keyword rich title tags for search engines and using irony, puns or metaphors for on-page titles that consumers can read has become quite common.

It just makes sense to package content in a way that makes it easy for the target audience to find. Such insight and best practices shouldn’t be left to marketers alone. Any entity that is publishing searchable content online should consider optimization of content for search “findability” and social sharing.

An extension of that SEO savvy includes leveraging real time social media tools (like chartbeat or Newsbeat) to identify content opportunities. Search and social media marketers have been using social media monitoring and trend tools for this purpose over the past few years or more. This is particularly common with information marketers that want to leverage growing bursts of consumer interest in topics that are trending. They’ll monitor for topics and create content that matches the boost in search queries, resulting in an influx of traffic from an audience actively looking.

Publishers are doing the same kind of monitoring because after all, they’re information marketers too, no? They may not be selling a product, but they are selling stories that attract readers who may click on ads and possibly subscriptions.

The Online Marketing opportunity here is for brands that decide to go the custom content and/or content marketing route, to be thoughtful and smart about connecting target audiences with their investment. Make sure content and digital assets are optimized for keywords and topics that people care about. Think of topics in terms of the customer, not marketing language and you’ll find more search traffic as well as social sharing.

As brand publishing efforts mature and they find the need to feed a hungry readership, real time monitoring for story ideas, topics and trends will become increasingly important.  As a SEO professional does research on search keywords for SEO, the publisher would do well to research topics flowing in the social information stream that match their editorial plans for real-time content opportunities.

Is your business publishing custom media? Do you leverage SEO with those content assets?  If you’re a journalist, have you been trained on SEO best practices? Does your organization value the impact of SEO and social media for promoting news?