Planning for global expansion is the current hot topic among publishers navigating the modern landscape for content and brands.

Using targeted and business-minded approaches, leading media companies are leveraging content resources to address new topics, themes, and delivery channels, realizing today’s disruptive forces mean they must get on board fast and be prepared for continuing shifts ahead (see TFP’s June Book Picks: The Technology and Innovators Defining Our Future).

While the pressure is on to adjust to these new realities and ever-changing business conditions, publishers like Hearst, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and others also see big opportunities to expand their missions and businesses around the world. And they’re making significant investments to do that. For example, Hearst recently announced that it’s rolling out a common technology backbone across 300 titles and 46 international markets, while the Times in April said it’s spending $50 million to become an “indispensable leader in global news and opinion” in the next three years.

The overarching goal in this global push is diversification of revenue streams, whereby media companies are reaching into emerging economies and markets to capitalize on and grow their brands in new ways, lessening their dependence on the traditional advertising models of the past. As Forbes CEO Mike Perlis noted in a recent WSJ podcast, media companies expect to continue growing their print and digital ad revenue, but increasingly it will become a smaller piece of the pie.

In terms of content, a main area of focus we’re seeing in these global initiatives is localization—and getting it right is key. “We don’t want to be seen as an American company that’s going into these local markets spreading the gospel of American pop Internet culture,” explains BuzzFeed international product lead Qichen Zhang. That means creating original content for specific audiences and channels, with a heavy reliance on data to effectively target editorial and tech strategies and enable teams to make decisions in real time across brands.

One of the big challenges for legacy companies with a number of disconnected brands is bringing efficiencies to publishing at a global scale, including more cross-title collaboration and greater content sharing. In its push to modernize and move into new markets, Hearst said the rollout of its so-called media operating system will be a “differentiator,” providing transparency that will enable editorial teams around the world to see how content is performing across titles and regions—and to quickly act on that data. See TFP articles related to this topic: Essential Elements of an Effective Content Backbone, The Importance of Content Governance and Oversight, and Top Five Shifts Publishers Can’t Ignore.

Other industry leaders moving in this direction include The Huffington Post, which began its journey into 14 new markets across six continents five years ago, according to a post on its site. Like BuzzFeed, it attributes its progress in large part to “thinking local,” meaning it creates new editions in local languages and staffs them with local journalists who create original content that matters to the audience they serve. “The goal was for them to remain integrated into the Huffington Post’s core mission, but also rooted in their local culture,” it says. Same goes at CNNMoney, which is launching new TV and digital franchises, series, features, and reporting as part of its international expansion, all targeted to the regions it’s covering, a recent report says.

In fact, all leading publishers today are focused on the huge potential—if not the necessity—of moving beyond their traditional boundaries to tap new markets and audiences around the globe. And from what we’re seeing among early movers, content localization is a central theme, as well as the demand for content management platforms that can provide the data and cross-brand efficiencies needed to drive success.

CEO Margot Knorr Mancini’s monthly blog on content strategy shares valuable insights and observations from her experiences in the publishing industry. 

Check out her other articles in our Content Strategy section. Also sign up for TFP’s newsletter briefings, including Media Metrics and This Week in Publishing, which highlights our weekly industry news picks and tips to help you stay informed. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to know more about? Drop us a note!

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.