Writing on Foliomag.com earlier this month, blogger Josh Gordon spun a comment heard at the Folio: show into a bullish prediction for print magazines. Although the grounds for his optimism might be questioned, I’ll leave that to prophet of print doom Private Frazer and others. What interested me most in Gordon’s premise was a point he didn’t follow up—the potential convergence, whether in print or online, of traditional publishing and content marketing.
The comment that keyed Gordon’s column came from Kerry Smith, CEO of Red 7 Media (publisher of Folio:, by the way). As reported by Gordon, Smith said that even as direct revenue from print is declining, the medium is becoming more valuable. The reason for this, he said, is that “his magazines are most often the first point of contact leading to the sale of all the other services he is now selling.”
Gordon went on to observe that “today, publishers of all kinds are using the presence they have in their markets to start related businesses.” That is to say, publishers are becoming content marketers.
As Gordon pointed out, this is not a new trend. But what was once, for most magazines, a tiny ancillary-revenue slice is now making up an ever-growing share of the total pie.
Now let’s suppose that as this trend develops among traditional publishers, a reverse trend takes root among content marketers. As the media content marketers produce get more and more sophisticated, advertising and even paid subscriptions will likely become viable revenue streams.
It isn’t difficult to imagine a future in which instead of a sharp distinction between content marketing and publishing there is a continuum.
On one end is the pure publishing model, in which all revenues come from advertising and subscriptions.
On the other is pure content marketing, where the money is entirely in sales of products and services.
In between is the increasingly crowded spectrum of publishers selling products and content marketers selling advertising and subscriptions.
It’s trendy for content marketers to say that we’re all publishers. Soon it may be just as hip for publishers to declare that we’re all content marketers.