This week in brand publishing:
- FanDuel continues to push into media with a new partnership with Kevin Durant’s media company, Boardroom.
- It’s been a year since a16z launched Future – and a thousand criticisms about brand-funded content destabilizing journalism.
- Brands must focus on audience quality, not quantity. Simply put, there is no use reaching a big audience if it doesn’t include the people they need to reach.
FanDuel’s Boardroom partnership
FanDuel threw its hat into the sports-betting-meets-content arms race with a new partnership with Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s media company, Boardroom, that it announced last week.
The content partnership will make FanDuel the exclusive betting partner of BoardRoom, and the two companies will collaborate on a new show this year that will run on both companies’ channels. A section of the Boardroom Breakers newsletter will be earmarked for FanDuel data and content, while Boardroom’s editorial team will also write for The Duel, which is FanDuel’s publication. The Duel was launched in 2018 as a competitor to DraftKing’s media play, Playbook. It features fan-contributed content along with reported and opinion pieces as well as video content a la ESPN.
FanDuel already has distribution relationships with publications including The Gist and The Ringer, but this new partnership is yet another indication of how deeply and quickly sportsbooks are pushing into content as a way to grow customer bases for lower acquisition costs.
Sportsbooks have been active brand publishers. As we covered last week, Penn National Gaming is attempting to purchase Barstool Sports outrightly (it already owns 36%), while DraftKings has announced its now growing its media business and brought on new execs to do so.
We’re now curating new and notable job vacancies and roles from across the brand publishing world in one place with a new jobs resource on the Toolkits site. Our goal is to give Toolkits readers an easy, centralized place to uncover and connect with the best career opportunities out there. Jobs added this week include content roles at Visa, EBay and KPMG.
It’s been a year since Andreessen Horowitz launched Future.com, its new publication about the future of technology. And as Benedict Evans (sarcastically) notes – the tech press appears to have survived this apparent assault on journalism.
Andreessen for its part never said it was out to disrupt the tech press, at least not publicly so. The stated goal of Future was to publish a set of essays and – as Eric Newcomer, who wrote the profile on the VC firm’s “go direct” strategy said – the idea was never to “compete” with reporters.
But it didn’t stop some from bemoaning this as yet another attempt from brands to destabilize journalism. (And the most cynical could argue that that was exactly the point – the bellyaching from so-called mainstream media was just another outcry from outdated institutions that were upset at being disintermediated.)
A year on, the tech press seems to be intact. But a16z’s launch led to renewed interest in true brand publishing from companies not in some warlike attempt to get back at the press, but in order to more deeply explore themes related to their business interests and build their own audiences and build audiences around them And arguably, it may be an opportunity for journalism to get back to hard news and investigative journalism, get audiences to pay for it, and lead to an “unblurring” of the lines that could benefit audiences in the long-run.
The flight to quality
For any company investing in branded publications or in-house content initiatives, getting their content in front of audiences is essential. But with competition for audience fiercer than ever, sophisticated brand publishers are increasingly judging the success of their efforts based on who their content is reaching, rather than simply chasing volume for the sake of volume. Simply put, they’re realizing there is no use reaching a big audience if it doesn’t include the people they need to reach.
Publishers of all stripes are now rethinking their attitudes to scale, and many are concluding that high-quality audiences are a far more powerful driver for their businesses than large ones. Growth is great, but sustainable growth – powered by smaller, more meaningful audiences – is better.
This dynamic is particularly pronounced for brand publishers, and therefore more important for them to recognize. Brand publishers do not typically face the same pressures traditional publishers do to monetize their content via advertising, subscriptions or commerce, for example. For many brand publishers, it’s far better to reach 1,000 of the right people than 10,000 people who can ultimately do little to help to grow their brands and businesses. Read more about the flight to quality.