Amazon is becoming an advertising powerhouse

Welcome! I'm Simon Owens and this is my media newsletter. You can subscribe by clicking on this handy little button:

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How Taegan Goddard built a thriving paid membership for Political Wire

Taegan Goddard was one of the first solo writers to build a thriving business around his blog. He also erected a successful membership model before the launch of Substack. [Simon Owens]

Corporations’ Political Reckoning Began With a Newsletter

Link: [Bloomberg]

It really is amazing how much political impact Judd Legum has achieved using nothing but a Substack newsletter.

There’s a criticism often lodged at Substack that it’s a platform that caters to opinion and analysis but not to real journalism. Original reporting, the argument goes, is time consuming, which means it would be difficult for a writer to establish the regular publishing schedule most newsletters rely on. Legum has shown that investigative journalism is possible under the Substack model.

Spotify Bets Big on Podcasts as a Path to Profitability

Link: [Bloomberg]

This is a good deep dive into the current state of Spotify's podcast ambitions.

Many might call this notion crazy, but I think that one day Spotify will reach a stage where its music library is mainly a break-even loss leader, with all its profit being driven by its podcast and audiobook divisions. The music royalties are just too high and there’s too much competition with other services like Amazon Music and Apple Music. Podcasts provide an avenue for Spotify to offer differentiated content, and it can monetize them through advertising to both free and paying users.

Sure, Spotify advertising has never been a big business, but that’s in part because it hasn’t been able to serve ads to paying subscribers, which make up the largest and most affluent portion of its user base. Podcasts provide a loophole that will allow ads to proliferate through its entire ecosystem.

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Mailchimp is betting that you’d like brands to text you a lot more

Link: [Fast Company]

It's quickly becoming outdated to even call Mailchimp an email marketing company anymore. It's a full suite of digital marketing products that happen to include email.

How Wattpad is tapping into its user base to produce TV shows and films

Link: [The Verge]

I've never used Wattpad, but it's fascinating to read about how it's launching amateur fiction writers into the mainstream.

I used to write short fiction in college and was lucky enough to sell short stories to several magazines and anthologies. The publishing industry back then, as I remember it, was extremely opaque and difficult to penetrate. Before you could even get your foot in the door at a major publishing house, you needed to land a literary agent, which by itself was a huge hurdle.

The launch of Kindle ebooks certainly did a lot to tear down those barriers to entry, and it seems Wattpad serves to further erode those barriers for starting a career in fiction writing.

How the 9-publication cooperative Brick House designed a revenue splitting system that could be a model for new media bundles

Link: [Business Insider]

This is a fantastic breakdown of how a media cooperative can work. Super excited to see more of these launch in the future.

I’ve built a media industry watercooler

I have a private Facebook group that I only promote on this newsletter. It now has over 400 members, all of whom work in the media industry. That’s a lot of expertise to tap into, and we get up to some fun discussions about industry news. Join here. [Facebook]

The quiet ascendency of New York Times Cooking

Link: [Medialyte]

“The New York Times Cooking app has more subscribers than most of the largest newspapers in the country."

Condé Nast Entertainment wanted a major podcast network, but the producers say they got burned instead

Link: [The Verge]

I'm somewhat surprised that Conde Nast's podcast operations are such a mess since it has a pretty well functioning, centralized video team. I would have thought the company would model the former off the latter.

Amazon’s ad business will gain the most share this year, according to analyst survey

Link: [CNBC]

Amazon is projecting to generate something like $85 billion in 2026 just in ad revenue. It's quickly becoming an advertising powerhouse, which I'm guessing is going to drive most of its profit in the years become.

Think about the potential strategy: you sell goods at just about a 0% profit margin, driving all your competitors out of business because they can't compete on price.

You recoup all profits through ads, which companies have to spend money on to reach your massive customer base.

OZY hits profitability on $50 million in revenue

Link: [Axios]

OZY has always been an enigma to me. You rarely hear about it, but it's been slowly expanding into various verticals and seeing some success.

Half the company's revenue comes from TV and podcasts, and it's "produced and sold 12 prime time TV shows, with 9 being renewed or as spin-offs of previous shows."

It’s so cool when my subscribers recommend my newsletter

A few times a week, I’ll get tagged in a tweet like this one:

Not only does it provide a great ego boost, but shares like this one are the leading driver of new signups for this newsletter. Could you take just a few moments to recommend it?

Here, I’ll even provide you some language you can copy and paste:

I've really been enjoying @simonowens' media newsletter. If you work in the industry and aren’t subscribed, then you’re missing out.

Thank you in advance!