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Publishers have begun to offer marketing services in increasing numbers over the past few years. This marks an important change in the relationships media organizations have traditionally held with advertisers, where a company would submit an ad for placement that was created by its in-house team or a marketing agency.

Media organizations no longer simply place ads for their customers. Nowadays, many write the ad copy and develop the artwork, too. In this article, we’ll explore why publishers are becoming agencies and share a few examples of publishers who’ve made the transition.

Why publishers are adopting agency models

In an effort to diversify their revenue streams, many media organizations have become one-stop creative shops for advertisers. The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting drop in advertising revenue has accelerated the shift toward publishers offering full-service marketing support to their customers.

By adopting an agency model, publishers can continue to focus on their craft-”storytelling-”while they fortify their business against potential market disruptions, and perhaps attract new investors in the meantime. This approach enables publishers to grow their bottom lines and position themselves for success in a volatile industry.

6 examples of publishers with agency models


As America’s largest newspaper publisher, it’s no coincidence that Gannett is on this list. The 100-year-old company’s agency arm, Gannett Digital Marketing Services, not only helps advertisers reach millions of people every day, but creates strategic marketing plans for its customers to maximize their reach across various platforms.

Gannett Digital Marketing Services’ offerings include daily deal coupons, digital circulars, digital word-of-mouth campaigns, mobile marketing, pay-per-click advertising, retargeting search engine optimization, and social media advertising.

CNBC Catalyst

The U.S. news network CNBC launched a full-service agency, CNBC Catalyst, in 2016 to position itself as a leader in the advertising industry. The organization calls Catalyst’s content studio and global ad sales team “the rights-holder to the world’s most powerful audience” (the international business and investor market).

CNBC Catalyst has a well rounded service offering in the following areas:

  • Audience
  • Brand Strategy
  • Content Studio
  • Data and Insights
  • Experiences
Condé Nast

This U.S. publisher launched its creative agency, 23 Stories (now called CNX), in 2015 to give advertisers access to the media company’s editorial talent. CNX works closely with Condé Nast’s editorial team to gather rich insights into what kind of content will resonate most with readers.

The agency’s website features work for big-time clients such as Bank of America, Dove, Google, Gucci, and LIFEWTR, showcasing the company’s prowess in advertising and branded content.

Vox Media

Founded in 2003, Vox Media markets itself as “the leading modern media company.” It’s no surprise, then, that the organization has its own agency division called Vox Creative, which gives advertisers exclusive access to Vox Media’s editorial properties and their data.

By positioning itself as an expert gatekeeper to Vox Media’s audience, Vox Creative presents a compelling value proposition to advertisers who want access to the publisher’s millions of readers, listeners, and viewers. The company also avoids shelling out money to an external agency.


This Canadian media organization offers print and digital display, as well as a full suite of marketing services and buying options. Some of Torstar’s services include:

  • Owned & Operated Inventory and Exchanges
  • Over 350+ Behavioural Segments & Custom Segments
  • Display, Social, Search, Video, Audio Units
  • Custom Content Marketing
  • Programmatic Buying, Selling & Reporting
  • Geo-Fencing & Location Based Marketing
  • Strategy, Planning & Full Funnel Execution
Active Interest Media

Colorado-based Active Interest Media (AIM) owns 50+ brands that cater to a niche audience in markets such as outdoor recreation, healthy living, and more, totaling 40 million people. The publisher uses a mix of print media, digital media, events, and films to reach its dedicated global audience.

“We staffed and launched an AIM level marketing services team under the Catapult Creative Labs brand that works hand-in-hand with our brand teams. As of this writing, we’re now ranked among the top 10 marketing agencies in revenue,” CEO Andy Clurman told What’s New In Publishing.

How your media organization can leverage this trend

As a publisher, you’re already an expert in content creation, and you already have a platform to share that content with the world. Offering marketing services is a logical next step for your business. By building a team to deliver a suite of strategic creative services to your advertisers, you can reaffirm your value and compete with other agencies-”instead of leaving revenue on the table.

However, you can’t make this shift alone. Technology that enables publishers to manage various platforms and inventory packages in one interface is crucial to adopting the publisher-as-agency model.

Publishers can leverage Adpoint, built specifically for media companies, to get in the game and start selling marketing services today. Adpoint helps publishers worldwide improve sales performance while reducing the cost of sales. You can save time, delight your advertisers with a smooth sales delivery process, and grow your revenue-”all with Adpoint.

Afton Brazzoni

Afton helps B2B companies serve their audiences with captivating, refreshing, effective clarity through storytelling. She brings 12 years of experience in marketing and communications, with a background in journalism, to her mission to deliver clients excellent content that drives their businesses forward. Afton has extensive experience developing strategies and content for growth-oriented organizations such as technology companies, higher education institutions and the tourism industry, as well as for entrepreneurs.