30 October 2017 Why innovative companies are now in the publishing business

By Holly Formosa.

When it comes to marketing strategy, owned media is an incredibly under-utilised channel. 

Here’s how to develop an audience, drive brand advocacy and generate revenue, with a branded content strategy.


As we are told ad nauseam, it’s a new media landscape. 

Facebook, the largest benefactor of our paid and shared media budgets, charges us a premium to reach audiences we initially thought were ‘owned’.

It’s a sober reminder we don’t own these communities at all, Facebook does. They’re our landlords and they can put up our rent or (worse!) kick us out whenever they like. 

On the earned side of our programs, newsrooms are shrinking and many outlets are moving towards a sponsored content model making traditional publicity harder than ever to achieve.


What if we tipped your traditional marketing approach on its head? Instead of a product based campaign with advertising, social media and publicity as distribution channels (AKA the Mad Men approach), you have an ongoing strategy to create and publish valuable branded content to a dedicated community. 

In effect you have two products:
A. Your original product and/or service 
B. The owned media product – a branded content platform to develop audience 

You were (and will always be) in the business of selling products, but now, in addition, you are also in the business of publishing.

Once you grow the audience, you can then market product A to the audience created from product B, simultaneously increasing customer loyalty and brand advocacy for both offerings.

Some of the most successful brands implementing this model boast audience that exceed the reach of their own industry publications. 



Red Bull Media House 

A dedicated content arm with more than 1,000 employees. The Red Bulletin, their international men's lifestyle magazine, has a monthly print run of 2.2 million. Read more.


Loreal: The Makeup Genius App

A virtual mirror which allowed customers to try on makeup products in real time. The app was downloaded 400, 000 times in an eight-week campaign period. Read more.


American Express: Open Forum Community

A loyalty service program which offers online resources for small business owners. Since launching in 2007 it’s been the #1 source of leads for new AMEX card members. Read more


Financial Sustainability 

Owned channels work phenomenally well for revenue generation. 

By collecting data and/or driving people back to your website – something that all great owned media strategies do -  it’s easier to convert customers to purchase something. 

Also, once your audience development program has valuable reach and engagement you can monetise it through sponsorship and advertising. 

Effectively, you have a marketing strategy which pays for itself. Imagine how impressed your CFO would be!

Authentic Communication

Communities we own are more valuable. They’re genuinely interested (after all, they did sign up) and will disclose more of their personal data and preferences over time. 

We can then establish personalised and direct communications, in higher frequency.


As a bonus point, owned content that lives on a site should always contribute positively to SEO efforts. 

Blog strategies incorporating keywords or phrases give you more credibility with Google, while also driving the right customers to your website for information they’ll find valuable.


For further information on content marketing we highly recommended reading anything from Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute.

If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, or if you have questions, please feel free to email Holly via [email protected]

About Holly 

Holly is an Account Director at Icon Agency with more than ten years’ experience developing integrated communications strategies.