Zag Ep. 54 Is The Super Bowl Ad Still Worth It and Why Are Incumbents Buying up Media Businesses?

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💪Big incumbents buying media challengers

If you’ve been here for more than a minute, you know how passionate we are about the “media company” model for marketing. For those who haven’t, here’s the TL;DR:

We believe that modern marketing is about thinking and acting more like a media company than a marketer.

Marketing has always been and will always be about telling a story to change perception and behavior in a way that drives the growth of a business.

The story you tell (and how/where/when you tell it) is what will drive the change you’re looking for, but in order to tell someone a story you first need their attention.

And in today’s world, attention is one of the hardest and most valuable commodities out there. Attention is actually the bigger limiting factor for most marketing teams and therefore is the biggest constraint for most company’s growth.

Media companies are attention businesses. Their entire model is built on attracting, retaining, and then monetizing people’s attention. There’s a huge opportunity to think and act like a media company - to be in the business of attention.

What this means in practice will differ by category, company, and stage, but it essentially means focusing on putting out a high quantity of high quality content that adds value to the audience you’re trying to reach.

This is, of course, what we’re building with Rival Media, and what we’ve seen work in past professional lives at 11:FS and at VaynerMedia.

But there are numerous examples of businesses that have followed this model and made it work.

Now, as with anything, you can either build it or buy it. Building is harder and takes longer, but  it’s the only option for most challengers. But as more of the market starts to come around to this model, the incumbents are starting to leverage their advantage of scale to buy their own media companies and plug them into their ecosystem.

Some of the recent examples:

🙌Hubspot buying The Hustle

💸JP Morgan buying the Infatuation

👑DraftKings buying VSiN

🍫Robinhood buying MarketSnacks

We’re a big fan of this move - as long as the incumbents let the media companies do what they do, and don’t try to turn them into a short-term marketing machines.

The media model only works if you truly focus on thinking, acting, and being a media company.

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Brand To Study📕

Looking back on one of our favorite brand partnerships of all time…

This one is a bit of a throw back, but it came up in a conversation recently and we love it so much we just have to share. Back in 2018 Google partnered with HBO’s Game of Thrones to promote the new Chromebook. How did they do it? No, it wasn’t a big ad buy.

It was a Google Slides presentation for the White Walkers recruitment drive.

Genuis. Yes, it’s one of those clever advertising ideas that us marketing folks get all excited about, but it’s also a fantastic example of showing the value of a product in a creative way that earns peoples attention instead of buying it. If you’ve heard the saying that “it’s better to tell someone a joke, not tell them you’re funny”, so much marketing is the “tell people you’re funny” kind. It talks about the product and why it’s great. This activation SHOWS people the product and why it’s great, and it does so in a way that’s totally unexpected and differentiated from all the other advertising in its category.

There’s something we can all learn from that…

Have a thought on this topic? We’d Love to hear it.

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