- Niche Media Publishing
- The Niche Media Publishing Newsletter: 6 February 2024
The Niche Media Publishing Newsletter: 6 February 2024
Waiting on HCU, Raptive's Affiliate Play, Local Media Gets Funded, Niche Media Finds
Waiting on HCU, Raptive’s Affiliate Play, Local Media Gets Funded, Niche Media Finds
Welcome to this week's issue of the Niche Media Publishing Newsletter.
Before getting started, a quick note from our sponsor.
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Alright, let’s get into the topics for this week.
Something’s Gotta Give with Google HCU
Glenn Gabe has a good thread taking a look at Quora (Reddit’s red headed step child) and how objectively bad their content tends to be and how they’ve benefited initially from HCU.
He seems to suggest this won’t hold long term.
So users are upset with a drop in quality overall (and AI responses), yet Google's "hidden gems" update rewarded Quora big-time (see screenshot below). Let's see how things go with the next few major Google algo updates -> A look at the decline of Quora, which used to stand out… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe)
Feb 4, 2024
My Take: It’s much easier to leverage AI content on Reddit and Quora than it is on a stand-alone domain. This doesn’t seem sustainable for anyone involved, including Reddit and Quora.
For as much as John Mueller - and other’s at Google - may have passing disdain for the “SEO class”, the current setup is far worse.
Like it or not, the “worker bees” of Google organic search, WERE these slightly above average creators & SMBs. Incrementally moving the ball forward on content quality, while balancing business reality.
The content wasn’t always 100% altruistic. Bloggers and indie media got paid & followed the money.
But the incentive structures broadly kept publishers on a stable track with some guardrails.
It’s been years since I’ve seen this level of spam littering the Serps.
The level of Quora, Reddit, Medium, and LinkedIn gamification is a whole new level of crazy.
Raptive Enters the Affiliate Ecosystem
I’ve touched on my love-hate relationship with programmatic ad networks in previous editions, but Raptive seems to be voting with their feet (or job board) with this one:
My Take: I love reading job postings to gather intel on companies and market segments. The fact that the biggest (and I’d argue “best”) programmatic ad network is entering the affiliate arena, says something!
With all of the network data that Raptive has - both on the Pub side AND Brand side - they have some unique advantages to launching a marketplace.
In fact, double sided marketplaces (like affiliate networks and ad networks) are notoriously difficult to scale. They already have the hard part complete.
I’m very curious to see how this rolls out. Mediavine made a half-hearted attempt at influencer marketing solutions a few years back, but other than a few random inbound leads, I’ve haven’t seen anything interesting from this.
Overall, a comparatively bullish note for affiliate and perhaps an ominous one for programmatic.
Local Media…. Once Again
This play keeps popping up on my radar. I’m at the point where I’m considering launching a “newsletter first” local media play.
Local news company 6AM City just announced a raise:
NEWS: Local newsletter startup @6amcity just raised a $10M series A funding round.
If you love newsletters and local media, you need to learn from this company.
They have 1.3M+ subscribers across 26 local newsletters.
Great unit economics, great execution.
— Matt McGarry (@JMatthewMcGarry)
Feb 2, 2024
My Take: Congrats to them for raising capital with so many macro and sector headwinds right now.
This aside, I’m curious to see how they can scale this. Axios has some traction here, but more in the “morning brew for local” vibe.
I suspect there’s back office synergy to support a multi-geo play, but this is one area where local creators may have an advantage around certain edge cases.
In other words, can you scale a platform for “the locals” to share their insights? Or, have tools (like Beehiiv) democratized the “stack” to the point where it’s more efficient for locals to local on their own?
Regardless, there’s an incredible opportunity here to help fill in some of these gaps:
In this new age of low platform costs and flattened hierarchies, the golden age of hyper-local and “niche local” information may actually fill in the news deserts in a way paper newspapers (in all their ubiquity) could never do.
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Tools of the Week: Beehiiv
I’ll be testing a new segment where I highlight some of my indispensable niche media tools of the trade.
It’s getting to the point where I’m re-evaluating every line of business and every existing email list, to see if there’s a way to get them on Beehiiv.
They just keep shipping product!
It all started with newsletters, but having messed around with their automation builders, it’s honestly not altogether different from a MailerLite, Mailchimp, or ConvertKit.
Most of these legacy ESPs charge an escalating scale based on number of subs, but Beehiiv essentially caps out at about $100/month on the top of the line plan.
Introducing: the beehiiv monetization guarantee 🤝
starting today — all eligible users are guaranteed ad placements
it's never been easier to build a successful (and profitable) newsletter
— beehiiv 🐝 (@beehiiv)
Feb 5, 2024
Niche Media Finds This Week
Here are some niche media businesses I’ve found this week that piqued my interest:
FreightWaves Media / Firecrown: I’ve featured Flying Media in the past (now Firecrown), but I’m endlessly intrigued by this transportation-themed roll-up. They are in the news again for founder Craig Fuller’s interesting decision to split out different segments of their media line. Firecrown gives me some Vertical Scope vibes (in a good way).
Naptown Scoop: An example of what a local “newsletter first” media play can look like. This one is another Beehiiv publication targeting the city of Annapolis. The old-guard Capital Gazette newspaper daily has a declining 33,000 circulation list and is owned by Tribune Media. This one got me down the rabbit hole of BizBuySell’s “newspapers for sale”…
Interesting News Below the Fold
These are some other interesting things I read recently. Didn’t quite make the main feature, but worth reading.
John Wilson Shares Local SEO Tactics… I love the Owned and Operated newsletters because it’s very different from the usual SEO news I consume. It’s about sweaty service businesses and I usually pick up on a few interdisciplinary trends by expanding my horizons here.
Marie Haynes is Tracking the Google Lawsuits… Very interesting to see what information is coming up when Google is forced to defend themselves in court.
Apple Strikes Deal with Some Publishers… To use their content libraries to feed their AI. This could portend good things for publishers and creators. I’m happy to let AI use my content for a “derivative work” fee.
Matt McGarry Says No to Double Opt-in… And shares some reasons why double opt-ins are sort of foolish for email lists.
Here are some other publications I subscribe to, author, or co-sign.
If you leverage affiliate relationships in your media business, Affiliate Insider is where I share my in-the-field experience.
Our COO (Amy), publishes an incredibly detailed and thoughtful newsletter for content marketers here:
We also cover the latest MarTech trends and deep dives with a monthly (soon to be weekly) newsletter for B2B operators:
OK, that's it for this week...
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