Why a publisher’s website may not matter by 2020

By Kunal Gupta, Founder and CEO, Polar

There was tremendous change in the publishing industry this past year. Amidst all of the threats facing the industry, something profound happened which influences how content is distributed and consumed in ways publishers are only now starting to talk about.


The first wave


Last year, a number of discovery and distribution platforms (that’s really what they are) introduced their own strategies to keep users more engaged thanks to content. These include Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, Twitter Moments, Apple News, Snapchat Discover, Flipboard, LinkedIn Pulse among others.

It is easy (and fruitless) to debate the merits of each individual platform’s strategy in isolation. We all have our flaws, and that’s okay; most of these platforms have a track-record of learning from their flaws and iterating quickly. More importantly though, the fact that every major platform is going in this direction signals to me a massive sea change on the business of content.


It is different this time


Much before I started Polar, publishers had partnerships with the portals who were the front door into the internet for many users. Yahoo, AOL, MSN are the common references I hear. The difference this time is that when a user discovers content inside one of these platforms, they do not visit the publisher’s site. They stay inside the platform.

The bigger difference though is the scale and reach of the internet, and the needs for personalized curation. There are now 3-billion people online, expected to be 5-billion by 2020. Providing a personalized and curated content experience is something that the modern day platforms do well and that the portals and publisher homepages of the past do not.


The next wave


The reach and more importantly, engagement and time spent inside messaging apps has now surpassed social networks. And taking a cue from WeChat (China’s dominate messaging platform with 570-million active daily users), content may soon begin to appear within all messaging environments. Each WeChat user consumes an average of 7 articles per day inside the app.

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, Slack and other messaging environments are already dominating where we spend our time. And once content begins to pervade these experiences, it is a completely different game.


The road to 2020

Long term, the way consumers interact and engage with publisher content may not necessarily depend on a website. There is a massive opportunity given the number of global internet users is going to increase significantly and the number of connected devices (the internet of things) will grow exponentially. All of these people online will want content. And planning for a world where you may not have a website that matters is a fun and interesting challenge.



Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar and a Founding Member of Publisher 2020.  He leads a talented team transforming the media publishing industry with technology. Polar provides a technology platform that over 1,500 publishers around the world use to strengthen and grow their digital advertising businesses. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, leadership and finding focus and calm in a modern era. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.