Gritty, Facebook, and Dire Straits.
Greetings from NYC, where Charles the Dog has the week off and we’re diversifying our business model:
Not only are we investing in Dire Straits royalties, we're spreading our wings on the client side this week, branching out from our typical world of B2B and talking partnerships with a wellness brand and a media company. And while we’ve not added any more employees since last we graced your inbox, we have been buying ourselves a bunch more cacti.
On to the #content:
Always own your audience
This week brought the latest in what seems like a never-ending series of reminders to brands and media companies: Facebook is not your friend.
To put a tl;dr note on this most recent transgressions -- unsealed documents show that Facebook knowingly inflated its video metrics by as much as 900%, which, in the prevailing media narrative, led leading brands and advertisers to erroneously pour money into video. You’ll remember the great Pivot to Video, where everyone fired their writers and hired video producers instead; turns out lots of people likely lost their jobs based on fraudulent information.
And while everyone is excited to get another whack at the Facebook pinata, the blame lies with media executives who thought making short videos for Zuck and co would somehow be a solution to all that ails them. Which, even if FB hadn’t been faking its numbers, would not have been the case.
The moral of the story is EVERYONE--media companies, brands, agencies--should seek to own their own audience. John Battelle articulated this best for us way back in 2014 (and forgive the very long excerpt):
"As publishers – and I include all marketing brands in this category – the question then becomes: “What terrain do we claim as ours?”
Deciding where to lay down roots as a publisher is an existential choice. Continuing the physical metaphor a bit further, it’s the equivalent of deciding what land to buy (or lease). If your intention is to build something permanent and lasting on that land, it’s generally a good idea to *own* the soil beneath your feet….
Trouble is, so much of the choice land – the land where all the *people* are – is already owned by someone else: By Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Apple (in apps, anyway). These platforms are where are the people are, after all. It’s where the headwaters form for most of the powerful streams on the Internet. It’s tempting to build your brand on those lands – but my counsel is simple: Don’t. There’s plenty of land out there on the Rest of The Internet."
There’s a lot to unpack there (lol Yahoo), but the point is simple. You spend a lot of time and energy and money building an audience on one of these platforms -- the equivalent of putting marble countertops and a jacuzzi tub, and hmmm yeah maybe hardwood floors into your rental apartment. But despite the fact that you’ve done all the work, your landlord can kick you out any time the spirit moves them, crystal sconces and all. And the landlord, in this metaphor gives precisely zero fucks about what that does to your business model.
It’s worth keeping in mind when the Next Big Pivot comes along.
Things are happening
Animalz, which is a content marketing agency with a really cool name, is out with a really cool list of all the content marketing smartypantses you should follow on Twitter.
Great Big Story makes amazing branded content (also amazing non-branded content), and this video has dogs in it so its extra dope.
The state of Nebraska has a new advertising campaign that’s surprisingly appealing to us, probably because we’re lazy misanthropes.
From Digiday, ad buyers don’t really care that Facebook’s metrics are all screwed up because the company still has really good targeting and an audience the size of several large countries.
If you click one thing in this email, it should be this video of marimba player Aaron DeWayne doing an absolutely spot on version of the theme from Super Mario Brothers (it’s not as good as the Cocoa Brovaz version but then again few things are.
What We're Listening To
Saturday would have been Tom Petty’s 68th birthday, and we’re loving American Treasure, the first posthumous release since he passed away last year. It’s a pretty awesome selection of live performances, obscurities, and b-sides, and Petty is the freakin’ best. We miss him every day.
Bonus what we’re listening to: this Kurt Vile cover of Learning to Fly is *chef’s kiss*.