Once upon a time brands, media, and audiences had distinct roles within a marketing relationship. In today’s world where we see how Netflix, Red Bull and Amazon foretell brands as publishers, brands and audiences frequently take on the media role and become content creators and distributors. This shift in roles has given brands new opportunities to leverage the content that they and their target audiences create.

Thanks to the rapid expansion of social media and the newfound ability to create and share content with ease, potential and existing customers can publish their preferences, opinions, and experiences. Without even realizing it, audiences have taken over the function of marketers. It is very common for audiences to influence purchase decisions, bring about product awareness, and share feedback about brands.

When you consider how Netflix, Red Bull and Amazon foretell brands as publishers, you realize that a number of prominent brands have already maximized the power of their audiences’ content. Brands must move beyond creating their own content and engage with this user content. Customers do not like a Facebook page or follow a Twitter account to get product and service promotions. They expect tailored, relevant, and engaging content as well as direct interaction with the brand.

Consider the following examples of how Netflix, Red Bull and Amazon foretell brands as publishers.


Netflix released a 13 episode season of the show House of Cards on February 1, 2013. Instead of following a traditional format of releasing a single weekly episode, they capitalized on their subscribers’ preference to watch an entire season in the matter of a few days. Engaging an audience through their preferred method is a smart long-term strategy even if it means sacrificing short-term gains. A hyper-engaged audience is less likely to get rid of a subscription after such a great viewing experience.

Red Bull

As of November 2013, Red Bull employs 135 full-time publishing house employees. The company is building a loyal target audience that will pay dividends for the next three decades. This means that 2014 may not see a staggering return on investment (ROI), but in the end it will be worth it. Red Bull’s content is so high quality, that people actually pay for it and read their magazine, The Red Bulletin, religiously.


In late 2012, Amazon unrolled brand pages that allow their partners to promote their content on Facebook. Amazon took Facebook and Pinterest’s most popular and frequently imitated features and used them in their own merchandising design. The top of an Amazon Page functions much like a Facebook timeline with a product vision that has clickable images for users to add items to their Amazon shopping carts.