- DraftKings is launching an ad-supported streaming service which will be monetized through advertising.
- The Trade Desk published a piece that blamed its biggest competitors for the demise of BuzzFeed News, bringing up an important debate within brand publishing.
- More brands are trying to get their content on news aggregators like Apple News – but are finding the rules vague and confusing.
- On this week’s Brand Publishing Show, I spoke with Industry West CMO Ian Leslie about connecting marketing goals with content.
DraftKings launches streaming video service
Sportsbook DraftKings is going into streaming video with a new service that will be free for audiences, reports Bloomberg. The shows featured on the service will be video versions of podcasts that the company sponsors.
Notably, the company also plans to sell ad space alongside content on the platform. A growing number of brands are now attempting to generate revenue from their publishing initiatives, often in an effort to offset the costs of content production.
“Over the years DraftKings has expanded our media footprint by securing top talent and trusted personalities across sports media, and we’ve begun the initial rollout of DK Network,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The company acquired sports betting radio and streaming network VSiN in March 2021, and was able to get its brand on betting coverage 24 hours a day. Other than the VSiN acquisition, DraftKings has focused on building owned and operated channels, including creating original content for YouTube. DraftKings has focused on a partnership approach for its brand publishing as well, working with talent agencies and content creator networks to launch shows, each of which is hosted by top analysts and athletes.
The move is further proof of how white-hot the competition to acquire customers in sports betting has gotten. DraftKings – like Penn Entertainment with its Barstool acquisition and upstart sports betting company Betr with its YouTube shows – is trying to use content and media as a way to attract audiences, and turn them eventually into customers. DraftKings’ biggest competitor, FanDuel, also launched a streaming service in September last year, and plans to license podcasts from Spotify-owned Ringer.
Brands want to get their content on Apple News and other aggregators
Brand publishers are increasingly attempting to have their content distributed by news aggregators such as Apple News, Google News and Flipboard, but they’re finding that some services are more amenable than others.
While some aggregators welcome content from brand-owned publications, others are turning it away on the basis that it’s not legitimate journalism or that it does not meet their eligibility requirements. Publishing teams within brands argue the policies and definitions used by some platforms to determine content eligibility are too vague, however, and that they’re applied inconsistently. As a result, it’s often unclear why some brand-owned publications are granted inclusion and distribution while others are not.
Perceptions around brand-created content are changing, and inconsistencies like these illustrate how definitions of terms such as “journalism” and “news publisher” are evolving quickly, some brand publishers say.
Should brand publishers be considered journalists?
Ad tech giant The Trade Desk’s publication, The Current, published a piece last week diving into the demise of BuzzFeed news. The piece argues that one of the biggest drivers of BuzzFeed’s downfall was the dominance of Google and Facebook, which have, over time, slowly chipped away at publishers’ businesses. The piece interviewed trade groups and journalism professors and focused on a proposed California legislation that’s trying to level the playing field between platforms and publishers.
The irony, as my former colleague Brian Morrissey pointed out on Twitter, is that The Trade Desks’s biggest competitors are Google and Facebook, which bring into question the piece’s objectivity.
For brand publishers I speak with, whether what they do is considered “journalism” is often a source of internal consternation. Some editors inside brands argue that they’re charged with creating original content that relies heavily on reporting and analysis. Often, brand publishing teams operate like newsrooms, borrowing habits and processes from their journalism counterparts. For others, they’re aware that while that may be how the sausage gets made, who pays for the sausage matters too: some brand publishing execs agree that brand publishing exists solely to advance the narratives and the business goals of the companies that pay for it, which means that audiences have to approach it with that framing in mind.
A growing number of brands are distancing themselves from outright product marketing, going as far as to set up independent publishing arms (see Robinhood), and focus on original reporting as a way to grow audiences. Even so, the Trade Desk example serves as a useful reminder that they’re not out doing journalism – at least not in the traditional sense. While many brands can offer useful information and insights, they are out to advance business and commercial interests as well.
Industry West’s mission to be Elle Decor 2.0
On last week’s episode of The Brand Publishing Show, I was joined by Ian Leslie, chief marketing officer at home furnishing brand Industry West. His work caught our eye when he was editor-in-chief at Banknotes, a standalone publication owned and backed by #paid, an influencer marketing tool. At Banknotes, he oversaw a burgeoning content operation that covered retail, influencer marketing and e-commerce news.
A common challenge for brand publishers is connecting their editorial output with the wider marketing goals of their organizations. Publishing can supercharge marketing efforts, but competition for resources and audience attention often arises between content and other marketing initiatives. Ian and I talked about how brands can connect their publishing with their overall marketing goals, and how they should speak to increasingly media-literate audiences.
Notable: Netflix Queue’s profile of Elizabeth Debicki
Netflix’s Queue is doing some great entertainment content. The video streaming platform’s own head of editorial, Krista Smith, is the writer behind this piece profiling actor Elizabeth Debicki, who most recently appeared as Princess Diana in The Crown.
The long-form piece features photography by American fashion photographer and artist, Collier Schorr, whose work has been seen in everywhere from i-D to Dazed.
That combination of talent results in a well-reported and beautifully presented piece that quality-wise, is as good as if not better than anything any other lifestyle magazine could do. While most attention has focused on Tudum, Queue – which also prints a physical magazine – is one of those under-the-radar brand publications worth keeping an eye on.
The new issue, where Debicki is the cover star, also features other creatives including Beef stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, costume designer Colleen Atwood and actor Pamela Anderson. Krist Smith also dives deeper into the magazine on her podcast, Skip Intro, with guests Keri Russell and Rob Lowe.
Also worth noting:
- Robinhood Snacks’ podcast, which was spun out as an independent product and renamed The Best One Yet, says it got 50 million downloads in 2022.
- Speaking of Snacks: Robinhood has redesigned its Snacks newsletter, making its brand look and feel closer to that of Sherwood, its new “media arm” that will house all of its publishing products.
- TV-maker Vizio has launched “3 Pointers,” a new food and entertainment show hosted by Casey Webb which will appear on Vizio’s own streaming platform and on its streaming service, WatchFree.
- Dropbox’s layoffs, which affected over 500 employees at the company, appeared to include some of its content team.