Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Build Your Media Property on a CMS

Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Build Your Media Property on a CMS


Over the last decade plus leading SaaS marketing teams, I’ve built (at least) three media properties using CMS platforms.

It never went well.


Today I have the privilege of talking to many CMOs and demand marketers that are attempting to do the same. Our conversations are all fairly similar:


“We’ve frankensteined a property together in Wordpress using countless SaaS tools, and it kind of works, but doesn’t look very compelling, we can’t measure any ROI, and we don’t have the engineering resources to maintain it.”


Sound familiar?


There’s no shame in it. The reality is that before we launched AudiencePlus, there were no real alternatives to building a modern media property as an extension of your website other than content management systems like Wordpress, Webflow, and the rest.


The challenge is that CMS platforms are just not built for owned media. In fact, the “corporate blog” has not really evolved since its advent in the early 1990s.


In this post, I’ll share 5 reasons why you may regret building your own media platform on a traditional CMS. But before I dive in, let’s walk through a typical “build” scenario and highlight some of the early roadblocks.

Ok, so you want to build.

Prototypical web development projects coming out of marketing will start one of two ways:

  • We’ll build it internally.

  • We’ll work with an agency to build it.

In the internal build scenario, the challenge is that typically, marketing does not have access to the engineering resources required to build and maintain a media property. So what do we do? We either beg, borrow, or steal resources from engineering — taking precious focus away from developing our core product — or we wait our turn in line.


This challenge typically leads to approval for an agency project, which can lead to even more issues.


Agencies can unlock dedicated bandwidth to design and develop your media property, but these projects tend to be both expensive and extremely time consuming. And once the keys to your new media platform are handed over to you, ongoing maintenance or any net new changes will require developers to implement — starting this vicious cycle all over again.


For many marketers, these roadblocks are enough to deprioritize owned media as a project overall. The frustration of dealing with this problem led me to walk away from my CMO career with the intention of bringing a modern solution to market that’s built for the next generation of marketing.

5 reasons why CMS platforms fall short for owned media

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are 5 reasons why you may regret building your media platform on your CMS.


1. Content experience optimized for written content. Almost every CMS has a “blog” object that most companies extend into their owned surface for content distribution. But blogs are optimized for long-form written content, not engaging media formats like video, podcasts, live events, or others. At best, a video player is embedded within a blog post — not the consumption experience we have come to expect with consumer media services like Disney+ or Hulu.


2. Web analytics data doesn’t solve for true audience engagement. CMS tools rely on web analytics providers like Google Analytics and others to understand content performance and audience engagement. But the best we can get out of web analytics is an aggregated number of impressions — not very helpful for understanding which content topics or formats are resonating with what cohorts of your audience.


3. ROI of content marketing becomes impossible to prove. The best we can hope to get from attribution vendors today is an inference of how content is driving pipeline or other down-funnel outcomes. Since all web analytics data is anonymous, there’s no way to understand *who* is actually engaging with your content — whether it’s an at-risk customer, a target account, or just your CEO watching the video for the 100th time.


4. No “logged-in” experiences on the traditional CMS. Solving attribution challenges require companies to build a first-party “owned” data model by collecting subscribers. This may sound like a revolutionary concept, but it’s really not. Consumer behavior around subscribing to content is well understood with solutions like Substack, Patreon, and others. But CMS tools certainly don’t make it easy to build membership for your brand, nor to create personalized experiences based on the unique context of each member of your audience.


5. Hard to maintain and implement changes. CMS platforms require an engineer to maintain the platform, add new capabilities, or effectively do anything other than publish content using the original configuration.


If you’ve been in SaaS long enough, you’ve seen the ’build vs. buy’ movie play out several times before. There’s a reason we aren’t building our own CRM platforms in Sales, webinar platforms in Marketing, or ticketing systems in Support.


Within the next 3-5 years, it will be just as ridiculous to consider the idea of building a media property on a CMS.


By working with a SaaS vendor like AudiencePlus, you are effectively outsourcing development, maintenance, and innovation to subject matter experts who are living and breathing the problem you are hiring them to solve.

Data is the missing piece for owned media

This conversation matters because in order for owned media to be a viable strategy for demand marketers, we need access to actual engagement data to prove impact.


Who among us has not spent resources to distribute a video on YouTube only to be left with an arbitrary view count? Or launched a podcast on Spotify that generated only a handful of listens? When these are the data points we leverage in conversations with our CXOs around media, you can understand why projects get shut down.


Audience data is the missing piece.


We know that rented channels like LinkedIn and YouTube will never share the data that matters. CMS solutions and the multitude of web analytics and attribution providers in their orbit can only infer context based on anonymized engagement.


With AudiencePlus, we are introducing a new type of web infrastructure for B2B marketers that’s designed from the ground-up for owned media. We’ll unlock access to the data that matters — imagine leveraging the same data that YouTube, Netflix, TikTok and other media platforms have on OUR engagement. 


With our proprietary machine learning models, we’ll extract insights that help you make better content production decisions, and understand the relationship between audience engagement and business outcomes.


CMS platforms are playing a different game.


And if you’re building your media property using one of their platforms, you won’t have access to the critical first-party engagement data required to prove revenue impact and keep your owned media initiative funded.


If you’re interested in learning more about AudiencePlus, we’d love to connect with you.


Anthony Kennada | About the Author

Founder and CEO, AudiencePlus

Prior to founding AudiencePlus, Anthony served as the CMO of incredible companies like Hopin and Front. He was the founding CMO of Gainsight where he and his team are credited with creating the Customer Success category -- a novel business imperative, profession and software category that helps subscription companies grow sustainably by becoming customer obsessed. By focusing on human first community building, content marketing, live events and creative activations, they developed a new playbook for B2B marketing that built the Gainsight brand and fueled the company’s growth from $0 to $100M+ ARR, and eventual acquisition by Vista Equity at a $1.1B valuation. You can follow him here.


Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Build Your Media Property on a CMS

CMS platforms are just not built for owned media. In fact, the “corporate blog” has not really evolved since its advent in the early 1990s. Here are 5 reasons why you may regret building your own media platform on a traditional CMS.

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