Revolution. That’s the term Brian Alvey, the man who built the software underlying three generations of digital publishers, uses to describe a buzz that has reached a crescendo over the last 12 months: Advertisers don’t want to just make ads that run alongside other people’s content anymore; a surging number of them want to be publishers themselves.
"The revolution occurred," Alvey says, "[because] the audience is now in charge." Brands have been publishers for almost as long as publishers have been publishers. (Tractor maker John Deere has been publishing a corporate magazine called The Furrow since 1895.) But it wasn't until the late aughts that corporations like Coca-Cola and P&G started embracing the Internet's chant, "We're all publishers now." They began trading homepages for magazines, press releases for documentary-style storytelling and 30-second spots for web series.
Today, the chorus has become more frenzied. Because of social media’s massive new influence, "publish or perish," is now no longer just the dreaded axiom of academics; brands — and their agencies — are saying that those who don’t embrace the trend will be left behind.