The rise of micro publishers!

A new trend will shape the future of the ad tech ecosystem: the rise of micro publishers.

There is a growing number of highly influential users on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube who are determining how today’s mobile users are consuming media and content. Some of these influencers have more visitors than traditional media outlets, and often almost zero production cost. This throws a wrench into the classic publisher/advertiser relationship, but it might also present an amazing entrepreneurial opportunity.

Much of today’s ad tech ecosystem remains focused connecting brands with “premium publishers.” Perhaps we need to rethink our definition of “publisher” and devise new ways to tie ad dollars to media.

Let me provide some context to underline how different tomorrow’s media landscape will be from yesterday’s. Mass media is a fairly new phenomenon. Between 1690 and 1780 the number of newspapers printed in England rose from less than a million to fourteen million per year. By 1938, 11 million newspapers were sold every day in England (A. Aspinall 1946), and over two-thirds of the population read a newspaper every day (A. Bingham 2005).

The US saw similar growth rates up until the 1950s, at which point the TV started to heavily intrude on the newspaper business, and the total number of papers began to decline. Today, the US has over 300 fewer newspapers than it had in the 1940s.

Today, the total circulation of the highest ranked US papers, the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal, are now both around 2 million per day.

Pretty good reach, but of course not as large as our beloved TV. Sunday Night Football still tops the charts with 22 million viewers, and the most watch event in TV history is the 2014 Super Bowl with a stunning 111.5 million viewers. But the numbers are top heavy and concentrated. Coming in at number 10 is “Dancing with the Stars” with only 12 million viewers, and CBS “60 Minutes” only makes it to 8 million viewers.

Now consider the following reach statistics:

  • Katy Perry: 56 million Twitter followers
  • Barack Obama: 41 million Twitter followers
  • Bill Gates: 17 million Twitter followers
  • Kim Kardashian: 4.6 million Instagram followers

Clearly these celebrities got some of their fame through traditional media, so we need to credit traditional media for this reach… but now check out these statistics:

  • Nash Grier: 16 year old vine celebrity – 9.8 million Vine followers
  • Cameron Dallas: 20 year old YouTube and Vine star – 5.3 Instagram followers
  • Brent Rivera: 16 year old Vine celebrity – 5.3 million followers 
  • Carter Reynolds: Instagram star – 2.4 million Instagram followers 
  • Smoosh: YouTube star – 19 million subscribers 
  • PewDiePie: Youtube sensation – 31 million subscribers! 
  • W. Campos: Marketing manager taking toy photos – 5.3 million followers

The list goes on. From housewives posting recipes on Pinterest, to teenagers who post nothing but pictures of shoes, the masses are becoming famous.

The surprising result of a survey Variety commissioned in July found that the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube faves, eclipsing mainstream celebrities. The highest-ranking figures were Smosh, the online comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, both 26.

Now the time has come for these Micro Publishers to monetize their fame. Agencies have started to take notice, and are reaching out manually. Nash Grier’s team confirmed that major brands will pay the star between $25,000 to $100,000 to plug their products in vine, and according to the BBC, Viners can charge advertisers about $1,000 per 100,000 followers. When these influencers start to pull brands into their feeds, we are witnessing the true birth of native advertising. Now its time to create ad-tech tools to support this fascinating ecosystem without breaking the magic and authenticity of their posts.

What is needed is an automated platform to aggregate these influencers, help micro publishers connect with advertisers, give them consolidate payments, and measure the results/impact.

Two companies that have started to go down this road are Niche in California, and BrandNew in Berlin. Both companies provide tools to micro publishers, and connect them with brands through intuitive and easy to use interfaces.

Clearly the space is in its infancy, but early engagement results show that consumers love to interact this way, and advertisers appreciate the authentic nature of the dialog. Lets see what happens next. 😉



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