On media and content marketing

What we call these things actually matters

✍️ The big story

On Tuesday, Axios reported that Coinbase is looking to launch its own “media operation” that would serve as a “top-of-the-funnel marketing vehicle to draw more people to its cryptocurrency exchange.”

According to the report, Coinbase is hoping to bring on a “top media editor to guide the effort” and the could could “hire an in-house team of roughly 30 to run a cross-platform media operation.”

There are a lot of questions around the initiative, but let’s start with the description of the thing as a “media operation” that would report to the VP of Marketing and would serve as a part of the company’s funnel to draw more people to its platform.

My good friend Alex has a fairly good breakdown of what an editorially-driven news organization should look like within a company and what it should not, and it basically comes down to whether or not that function is part of the marketing team. If it is, it is content marketing, and let’s not pretend it’s anything but!

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with content marketing—I have been a content marketer in the past and I probably will be again at some point in the future and it’s a totally fine job.

I think some people from the journalism world unfairly give content marketing the stink eye because it generally exists to serve the company it is created for first and foremost and not the general public altruistically.

But you can still produce good reporting in this setup and—I’m just guessing here, but—I doubt Coinbase would be asking any of its in-house staff to “drive its own narratives.” What’s more likely is that there will be some general guidelines about what a Coinbase staff writer could and could not report on (e.g., I doubt they would be able to write about other cryptocurrency exchanges).

At the end of the day, the primary function of the operation will be translating “Coinbase News” readers to Coinbase exchange customers, and again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

After all, Coinbase is missing out on a ton of direct engagement that gets lost whenever a crypto junkie reads about the latest shitcoin on Coindesk or The Block or Decrypt or whatever. It would be better for them to read about it on Coindesk’s own site, and then be able to trade directly on the exchange.

📖 What I’m reading

TechCrunch’s Equity podcast wins a Webby Award [TechCrunch]
Awesome news for an awesome crew.

This AI makes Robert De Niro perform lines in flawless German [Wired]
Check out the demo video from deepfake dubbing startup Flawless to watch Jack Nicholson say, “You can’t handle the truth!” in French.

Sleep Evolved Before Brains. Hydras Are Living Proof. [Quanta Magazine]
I’ve been fascinated with sleep research ever since reading Why We Sleep, but this article explores how other species rest—even those that don’t have brains or really any sort of a nervous system.

OnlyFans Isn’t Just Porn ;) [NYT]
The New York Times also reads Playboy for the articles.

Why Artist Maya Lin Planted 49 Towering Cedar Trees in the Middle of New York City [Artnet]
This exhibit looks awesome, and I’m very excited to check it out the next time I’m in New York.

🧘‍♂️Your moment of zen