Big Tech’s Riddled Relationship with Publishers

By Joe Hyrkin

The power of Big Tech's influence skyrocketed to astronomical heights in recent years, with more than 50 percent of digital ad spend filtering through Meta and Google alone, as reported by Harvard Business Review. Despite those numbers, there's a narrative circulating the publishing industry that's long been overplayed, and that is: Publishers are losing their power and need to "fight back." With the question too often being: How can they do that?

It's a tired trope, and it's not the right conversation to still be unfolding.

Instead, the question should be: where does Big Tech's power stop and SaaS' influence begin? Is there even a dividing line?

The Role of Big Tech

Big Tech's responsibilities must focus on designing and manufacturing profitable goods and services, of course. And in this evolving ecosystem, there is always going to be growing pains, complexity, and confusion for users who are reliant on tech companies to make their content, products, tools, and services available for businesses and marketers to use effectively.

Additionally, the process of building software and tools that are easily accessible and navigable is exceedingly difficult, and tech companies need to understand how these tools and products not only affect their users, specifically publishers, but the publisher's audiences as well. Taking it a step further, companies need to understand how their offerings will interact with other tools and if it benefits the user's customer.

However, while there are challenges that need to be addressed, not all is lost. In fact, this complicated ecosystem is where SaaS companies can come into play to help publishers navigate Big Tech and effectively disseminate content across platforms – and it's not as difficult as it seems.

Providing Tools to Fit Publishers' Workflow

The digital publishing industry has grown exponentially in past years, and now more than 50 million businesses publish their content online. This can include anything from brochures, catalogs, digital magazines, advertisements, and social media content. These professionals are also operating as solopreneurs or small businesses. And, in addition to their day job of creating something (content) out of nothing, there's a lot that goes into it – all of which takes time. But time can be the enemy of social media and news cycles...

Especially when it comes to the pace of social media, brands, and creators alike are expected to sprint to social platforms where they can create a post in under a minute and then amplify it within a few clicks. Creators need the ability to react quickly and easily. And if publishers are expected to compete with social platforms for this ad revenue, they need to meet these advertiser needs with the same time-to-market of a social newsfeed.

The smartest approach is for publishers to align with tech tools that can help them ensure they're publishing content that hits the right platforms at the right time.

SaaS companies need to start by understanding how publishers' work and how their offerings can help streamline these complex workflows and facilitate content publishing on digital platforms. The integration world is complex, and successful companies are those whose products and tools can be used in association with others.

So, it's crucial that SaaS providers adapt their current offerings to be used in tandem with Big Tech's and other tech companies' tools. Companies need to know what publishers are already using to optimize their own tools to make it easier for publishers to create content that works across various platforms to meet their business goals.

Focus on the End Goal

The SaaS industry (not only Big Tech) needs to be cognizant of engaging with their customers' customers. The biggest challenge in the tech industry is missing that last-mile delivery – and it is deeper than customers being able to just use companies' products. It doesn't matter how good a product is if the end user can't get real value from it for their own business and create meaningful efficiencies.

SaaS companies need to not only provide publishers with the tools that will fit into their workflow but also ensure optimized publishing and content that aligns with their audiences. This can be anything from creating multimedia-rich content to transforming copy into personalized, interactive digital media assets that can be published immediately across channels.

SaaS solutions should ensure reduced time and effort while allowing for scalability and user-friendly integrations so that publishers can spend less time on complicated tech and more time engaging with their own consumers.

Providing Clarity Amid Complexity

Overall, Big Tech still has a long way to go before it perfects its relationship with publishers, but SaaS can play a vital role in putting the power back in the hands of publishers and supporting sustainable business goals. By providing accessible, easy-to-use offerings that fit in publishers' workflows and allow them to create engaging content for their audiences, SaaS companies can provide some support and clarity for publishers amid Big Tech's unknown future.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joe Hyrkin is CEO of Issuu.