- Niche Media Publishing
- The Niche Media Publishing Newsletter: 8 January 2024
The Niche Media Publishing Newsletter: 8 January 2024
Reddit Gains, Operating Uncertainty, NYT Sues Microsoft
Reddit Gains, Operating Uncertainty, NYT Sues Microsoft, Niche Media Finds.
Happy New Year everyone!
Welcome to this week's issue of the Niche Media Publishing Newsletter. I took a couple weeks off with the Holidays, so a lot to get to this week.
Also, this is the first edition on Beehiiv, since moving over from ConvertKit. Both are great platforms, but Beehiiv looks to be winning the feature race for newsletter-first distribution.
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Reddit Goes BOOM
Glenn Gabe has this take on the recent Reddit spike, perfectly coinciding with their pending IPO…
Not profitable for first 9 months of 2023. Then the "hidden gems" piece happened. :) -> Reddit expects 2023 ad revenue to grow 20%+ YoY to slightly over $800M; a source says Reddit was not profitable through the first nine months of 2023 "Reddit had said two years ago it aimed… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe)
Dec 26, 2023
My Take: Reddit’s certainly been the biggest beneficiary of recent Google updates:
I can’t see Google ceding this type of market share to Reddit for long. It just doesn’t make sense. What’s stopping Reddit from becoming page 1 of the internet instead of Google?
I’d expect some Google revisions in Q1, else “writing content for Reddit” might be the smart play.
Speaking of the updates… I’ve recently come up with a hypothesis of sorts to inform ongoing investments leveraging organic search.
How to Operate Amid Google Uncertainty
Tyler Tringas (great follow on X), puts it well:
is this an unpopular opinion or consensus?
it's important for entrepreneurs and investors to always be working from a hypothesis on the parts of the strategy that are not going according to plan.
In other words:
"churn is too high, so we have to work on that" ... is useless.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
— Tyler Tringas (@tylertringas)
Jan 4, 2024
I’ve struggled lately with how to operate given the seismic uncertainty from recent Google updates (HCU + Core + December).
Here’s my current working hypothesis to orient my thinking.
Course of Action #1 - "The Worst is Yet to Come" (20% Probability)
Google released the "Helpful Content Update" as a precursor to further reducing prominence for editorial sites, relying increasingly on the combination of user generated results and generative AI to satisfy search intent.
Publishers continue to see a slow bleeding out through 2024.
Yes, but: This is contrary to Google's signaling around E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trust). In an AI and "UGC" world, this emphasis is more important than ever.
Course of Action #2 - "This is the New Normal" (30% Probability)
Google trims the sails of many publishers and forces them to compete over a smaller search segment share. Only a few strong publishers survive in any given SERP results with meaningful traffic.
Many publishers go out of business and those who can withstand the initial shock consolidate their market position.
Yes, but: Many prominent and influential SEOs have pointed out the extremely poor results currently displayed (many outright spam examples).
Course of Action #3 - "The Worst is Behind Us" (50% Probability)
Google rolled out their new AI-based classifier in the HCU for the first time and the aperture was highly uncalibrated. After collecting data in Q4, media publishers gradually (but steadily) re-gain search share in 2024
Yes, but: Google is a virtual monopoly in search and doesn't need to operate on a timeline that suits publishers. It might be too late for many by the time things normalize. I'm reminded of another Jim Collins concept: "you only learn from the mistakes you can survive."
I’m still figuring out how to operationalize this, but am reminded of Buffet’s words:
There’s clear risk in the media asset class (in general) and specifically with search reliant properties. The threat of AI - and more importantly - AI disrupted search interfaces, can’t be ignored.
If we can acquire media assets that:
Have Q4 2023 priced in (e.g. no L12M earnings)
Can be acquired for sub 2X, ideally 1.75X
Have high “rankability” (still have ability to rank articles in meaningful positions)
High objective content quality (unique insights, expert written)
Comes with substantial email list (value each sub at $0.50).
…. then I think I’m a buyer.
I’m not in a rush to buy just anything, but I do think there are thousands of quality assets recently knee-capped by Google with sellers looking to cash their chips in and play “easier games”.
The New York Times Sues OpenAI & Microsoft
Another lawsuit dropped over the Holiday period and this one is a big one.
The New York Times just sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement for using its content to train ChatGPT.
Some of the allegations are STUNNING!
I read all 69 pages of the lawsuit, here are the most 🔥 parts:
— MatthewBerman (@MatthewBerman)
Dec 28, 2023
My Take: I’m following this story closely as a canary in the coalmine. What happens in this case might have ramifications for ALL media businesses.
If NYT loses, it might embolden AI platforms to more brazenly scrape creative works and creator’s outputs. If NYT wins, get ready for a torrent of similar suits from every major media company.
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Niche Media Finds This Week
Here’s a few interesting niche businesses that popped on my radar this week:
OilfieldNow: This is actually a business currently available on Flippa here. It’s a great example of turning specialized knowledge in a fairly niche market into something profitable. I don’t have the expertise to “be this person” but an interesting thought experiment to run on any industries where you do have “know-how”.
Futurepedia.io: I’m seeing a lot of directory-style websites pop up in the AI and emerging tech fields. I’ll admit to having overlooked directories as a business model until recently, but I think this works well in industries with rapid change (like AI).
Here's some other publications I 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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