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Will Digital Publishers Eat Up Digital Production and Creative Budgets?

By Unlocked PH / Carlo Ople 

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In the last 2 months I’ve had several meetings with digital publishers, post production houses, creative agencies, and production companies. The signs are all there: agencies stand to lose lions share of digital content production to media companies.


Majority of creative and digital agencies are not seriously looking at the business of digital content production. Several are putting up “studios” but they’re more for bragging rights versus actual business operations with profitability targets. On the other side we have the digital publishers. Under heavy pressure to deliver revenues in the face of declining numbers due to the surging popularity of Facebook, they’re now pivoting towards digital creative content. In short, they’re gearing up to take that away from the current suppliers which are agencies and the production supply chain.

It’s a Global Trend

Earlier this year I attended Facebook’s annual developer and marketer conference, F8. In one of the panels they had top executives from digital content creator companies Tastemade, Now This, and Insider in a panel and they were all talking about how their revenues from digital content production have been going up mainly because traditional creative agencies weren’t built to do that kind of work. In a time where content production was expensive, long, and had multiple steps (agency, production house, post production, promotion), digital publishers were able to deliver great value by leveraging their natural expertise.

The value proposition was three-fold: speed, made-for-digital content, and price. Media companies are all about creating content in volume and getting it out fast. There’s no other industry that embraces “fast is better than perfect” than them. Apart from that, the amount of work they churned out honed their “built-for-digital content” creation capabilities. They’ve tried and trail-blazed pretty much everything like silent videos, pocket TVCs, cinemagraphs, infographics, AVPs, and Live videos.

What agencies and clients don’t understand is that a lot of digital content companies are actually technology companies at heart. Majority of them obsess about analytics and how they can leverage the data that they see to create the kind of content their audience wants to consume. Imagine this practice applied to branded digital content creation? The value is truly immense.

Top Execs from Tastemade, Now This, and Insider during Facebook F8’s content creation panel

We also have the pricing. Due to the multiple stakeholders in the traditional agency content creation process (creative, production, post-production, media), the prices have stacked up because of all the companies that need to be paid. Media companies can skip all of that. They can ideate (though not as deep as creative shops), produce, edit, publish, and even promote the content that they create at a lower cost. They’re able to do this because they’ve invested in studios, people, and technology over the years.

Last, but definitely not the least, is the capability of media companies to change and influence minds. No one captures this best than the service statement of the branded content studio of The New York Times, T Brand Studio.

“We create and distribute insightful brand content and experiences that shape opinion.” – T Brand Studio, The New York Times Branded Content Studio

Here’s their promotional reel. You can also visit their website here.

T Brand Studio Sizzle 2016 from T Brand Studio on Vimeo.

So What Now?

The value to clients of digital publishers changing gears from advertising to content creation is immense and it’s something that I look forward to seeing come to life in the Philippines in the coming months. What’s exciting is that pretty much all the media companies I’ve talked to, both traditional and digital, are all referencing the New York Times T Brand Studio as their inspiration and peg.

So how can agencies keep up? They can definitely still make a play for this business or they can stick to what they’ve been doing but risk losing digital content business to media companies. How do you make a play for it? By being entrepreneurial and hiring the right people. Take risks, staff it properly, invest in capabilities, make mistakes, learn, and become good at it over time. Step out of your comfort zone and have a clear goal of spinning it out as a business. Resource it properly and make that bet. If you don’t, someone else will (consider hiring people from media companies, not the media placement but the actual content creation companies, to lead it).

“Our combined creative and production team consists of over 200 writers, designers, art directors, editors, animators, directors, and producers – all working to produce quality content for virtually every channel at the rapid speed of culture. Everything from Super Bowl commercials to Snapchat filters.” – VaynerMedia

If you want some inspiration, check out VaynerMedia. They’re one of the fastest growing non-traditional agency in the United States. The reason why they’re successful is that they’re not led by an advertising man. They’re led by an entrepreneur and this has dramatically changed how the “traditional agency” is built. You can read about their services, which range from content production, influencer management, transformation consultancy, media buying and planning, to even personal branding, here.

We live in interesting times. Excited to see how advertising and marketing will evolve here in the Philippines in the next 24 months. 

Partner with adobo Magazine

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