Paid distribution takes center stage
Last week X removed headlines from appearing alongside links to third-party sites posted to its platform, opting to simply display imagery associated with links in order to “improve aesthetics”, according to owner Elon Musk. The move is likely designed to discourage X users from clicking out to other sites and platforms.
X isn’t alone in its desire to keep users with its own four walls, and social networks have for years dialed back the exposure links to third-party sites get across their platforms.On LinkedIn, for example, users are offered tools to help them write full-fledged articles and create newsletters distributed directly via the platform.
X’s move once again signals to content publishers that they will need to adjust their distribution strategies and expectations as the era of organic distribution winds down.
For some, paying up is inevitable. We’re already beginning to see more brand publishers pay for content distribution: For example, just last week, we noted that the Trade Desk was promoting articles from its publication, The Current, on LinkedIn. McKinsey has also been increasingly promoting pieces from its gargantuan content operation on the platform.
For others, it’s a sign that they need to figure out a more complete audience development strategy. (Many are even hiring audience development experts for the first time.) The X shift is simply another reminder to marketing departments that will not be able to rely on platforms to drive free traffic to their content endeavors. As one brand publishing executive said to me earlier this year: “We’ve given up really on Twitter as a way to grow an audience and are thinking much more strategically about what our audience plan is.”
Link throttling and similar moves on social were what spurred brands to get into owned publishing in the first place, in an effort to own their audiences and build direct relationships. Now, as the rules continue to change, they will need to consider carefully what that means when it comes to ensuring these publishing endeavors continue to grow. As Traction CEO Adam Kleinberg said at the time: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”
Huge launches new issue of magazine
Marketing firm Huge launched the second edition of its annual “Huge Moves” magazine last week. The print issue features “10 Huge Moves for 2024,” a collection of articles featuring interviews, original photography, and custom data analysis — all designed to help business leaders prepare for the year ahead. The magazine’s cover art was created by artist Refik Anadol.
“Huge Moves was created with the intention to inform, inspire, and, in some cases, challenge business readers with substantive, intelligent content.,” Mat Baxter, Global CEO of Huge said in a statement. “As partners, our mission is to assist brands in identifying uniquely groundbreaking ideas that transform their business, unlock the potential of new and emerging technologies, establish a distinctive edge in the market, and build new avenues for growth. All of which is to say, we’re here to help them make huge moves.”
When we spoke with Huge’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Leigh Parker earlier this year, she said the goal of the magazine was to build an independent publication that could show off Huge’s internal thinking to clients and prospective clients, as well as the general public. “With this platform, we set out to create a respite from the noise, producing deeply researched, long-form narratives that prioritize quality above all else,” Parker said in a statement announcing the new issue.
Also worth noting:
- Microsoft’s Desmond Rice joined Visa as director, global employee and executive communications. It’s a role that’s becoming more common inside big brands as they look to use publishing as a way to reach internal audiences.
- Under Consideration explores Asana’s in-house brand and content team. (We interviewed its former head of editorial just a few months ago.)
- The latest Google Helpful Content Update caused less volatility than the two core updates before this one, reports Search Engine Land.