Over at Techcrunch there’s an interesting story of how Condé Nast has grown it’s portfolio of companies not through further media investment but instead with a niche fashion jeweler. It may sound like an odd choice, but given they also own Vogue, it makes perfect sense to marry media and jewelry audiences with each other.
While publishing revenues take a dip as the traditional marketing and advertising landscape get more clever, media is being forced to look at other avenues for profit.
Conflict of interest?
In a statement, Moritz von Laffert, MD of Condé Nast Germany said “We specifically target young, innovative businesses where we can contribute actively to a sustainable increase in value and which, as new business models, can provide meaningful additions to our media portfolio.”
But there’s an undertone in all of this: if a publisher invests in e-commerce and other retail operations, just how much of what we read will turn from unbiased (!) opinion to veiled marketing propaganda? How will they separate journalism from promotion?
Publishers already get sponsorship and revenue from selling marketing campaigns. To the reader, this is fairly transparent, especially for online news and opinion portals as well as for magazine formats. It is kept ‘safe’ because advertising is usually a shotgun approach with large page spreads and banners. But when a publisher with a reach like Condé Nast buys up businesses in line with its publications, their influence becomes much more tactical and could therefor have greater impact on the markets where they’re invested.
So it begs the question; can large enterprise companies do exactly the same?
Turning the tables
Could the large enterprise invest in media ventures and use their audience as an influencer of a larger marketing initiative? Or indeed could it be conceivable that an entire publisher be bought out for exactly the same ploy? Aren’t media houses like Condé Nast paving the way for that by grooming the public’s expectations?
Marketing is having to grow up fast. There are many new weapons in the marketing arsenal like social and mobile that increase reach both on a personal and mass-market level. But these are just a set of traditional channels to influence. What keeps marketing departments from becoming the new kings of media investment and controlling influence at a more local level?
And what price are they willing to pay in order to do that?