Will Digital Publishers Go Website-Free?


Will Digital Publishers Go Website-Free?

September 10, 2014

Whoa. The thought probably makes you feel . . . naked and vulnerable. It’s an interesting idea, but is it realistic? Yes and no. 

Yes, because it’s already an idea that is being tested—sort of.

No, because among many questions that arise, there is a big, obvious one: how do you monetize your content if it lives on another site—a site that you don’t own and have no control over?

Whose Idea Is That?

Well, it appears that Buzzfeed has had the notion for a while and they’ve been testing it out recently, along with other media companies like NowThis News and Fusion. Basically, these companies are creating content that is designed to live on other platforms and apps. We are seeing their content appear on Vine, Instagram and SnapChat—and that content isn’t linking back to their website. It’s just living there, in that place. Plus, it seems like the NYT has a feed for everything.

What Do We Do With It?

GigaOm recently took a look at this idea of promiscuous content and they bring up two key points:

  • It’s about reaching people where they are.
  • The homepage is not where people go anymore.

Even so, does that mean we need to abandon our websites and go chasing after our audience? No, but as we’ve talked about before, it is important to meet our audience where they like to hang out.

For most of us, right now, it’s about content marketing. And many would argue that. The idea of going to other platforms with our content has historically been about getting attention for our brand and driving readers to our site, where we can monetize that content.

The idea of not having a website at all is compelling, but it’s far too soon to tell if it could work. Remember, those who are working with the idea still have a website. It’s just something to have on your radar. Let Buzzfeed and others play it out:

  • Look at what kind of content they are doing it with.
  • See what platforms they are using with certain types of content.
  • Ask if those efforts could work with YOUR audience.
  • Look for their results.

And, in the meantime, focus on those two key points in the context of your current strategy:

  • Make sure your site is responsive.
  • Build content that translates well across platforms. 
  • Be social

Also, ask yourself if posting content on other sites is a marketing strategy or an editorial strategy, or a little of both? And how would eliminating your website impact that?

It’s okay if it’s hard to fathom that idea. The point is that it doesn’t hurt to think out of the box—and to watch those who are doing just that.