Inside The Walled Gardens: How Time Inc. Is Distributing Content On Other People’s Properties

on Sharethrough Events, Content Trends

If Time Inc. and the rest of publishing's "Old Guard" are going to stay relevant to modern audiences, they need to branch out, even if that means distributing content outside of their own ecosystems.

Few people understand this better than Chris Hercik, vice president of the Time Inc. Native Studio. In a recent onstage interview at NATIVE 2015, Hercik talked with Buzzfeed's Alex Kantrowitz about the importance of embracing offsite distribution models, such as Facebook's Instant Articles.

"With some of the new technology that's coming [out], we have the ability to reach younger audiences, we have the ability to reach more mobile audiences," Hercik said. "We realize that we have to start distributing outside our own ecosystem."

Hercik admitted that, by distributing their content on outside platforms, publishers may be relinquishing some control. That goes against the traditional wisdom that publishers should keep their content to themselves. But by carefully selecting their partners — both the platforms and the advertisers — he thinks the model can work.

"As long as we can continue to have quality journalism, premium environments, I think it's a no-brainer for us to extend into platforms like [Instant Articles], into Apple News."

Where else could he see Time distributing content?

How about Amazon.

"I think Amazon is a great platform. It's a huge platform, let's just put it that way. And if we can distribute, in a smart way, content in that environment, I think it would be a great next step."

Yes, that's a Time Inc. executive speaking openly about his desire to start distributing content directly to the retail giant's website.

When prompted to give an example of how such a partnership might work, Hercik said he imagined a Sports Illustrated story on LeBron James appearing alongside the latest LeBron sneakers.

Hercik denied that this was anything but wishful thinking on his part, at one point turning to the audience and asking if there were any Amazon executives in the room who could help him make this distribution strategy happen.

"We have a great partnership with Amazon,” he said. “Hopefully this will get back to them.”

More from NATIVE 2015:
With GoPro, A Media Company Takes Shape
How LinkedIn Supports The Professional Journey—And Profits From It
The Atlantic and Netflix's Native Ad 'The Ascent' Takes Top Awards At Native Creatives