Branded Content: The business of storytelling

Top Row (left to right): Julia Campbell, Amber Aldrich, Samantha Johnson and Jared Merves
Second Row: Eric Brandner, Robin Gruen, Kurt Knapek and Michelle Vielma
Top Row (left to right): Julia Campbell, Amber Aldrich, Samantha Johnson and Jared Merves
Second Row: Eric Brandner, Robin Gruen, Kurt Knapek and Michelle Vielma

The definition of branded content is growing as fast as the new revenue potential. How fast? According to eMarketer, native advertising now makes up 63% of the display ad spend and The Drum predicts content marketing growth will hit $412 BILLION by 2021.

A two-part breakout session on Monday, Feb. 17, at the Mega-Conference will share best practices from publishers who are innovating in this space.

Branded Content: The business of storytelling (Part 1)

Hear directly from publishers about how they are building a branded content strategy, successful ways to educate sales teams and clients, how they are structuring their teams and what is working and not working in markets of all sizes. The Branded Content Project (a project created by the Facebook Journalism Project, the Local Media Association and the Local Media Consortium) will show off some real world examples of campaigns that will inspire and energize your teams back home. In this session we’ll cover:

  • Nuts and bolts of building a storytelling business.
  • Education strategies for sales teams and advertisers.
  • Successful business categories and packaging strategies.

Julia Campbell, branded content manager, The Branded Content Project

Amber Aldrich
, senior director of advertising, The Seattle Times
Samantha Johnston, general manager, Colorado Mountain News Media West (Swift Communications), and publisher, The Aspen Times
Jared Merves, lead, Denver Post Content Studio

Johnston said, "Like many organizations, we launched a branded content initiative when we knew we needed to play in the space, but we didn’t yet know how. We’ve spent three years learning by trial and error. We’ve found many successes along the way — including the ability to monetize and be profitable — but we realized that we couldn’t scale without a stronger foundation. I’ll share some dos, donts and how-tos to get started or to scale."

Aldrich said: "The opportunity is tremendous for media to position ourselves as local experts and storytellers, and to guide brands on how to best connect with local audiences. Whether you are just getting started or refining an existing Branded Content business, we’ll share what learned along the way, what pitfalls to avoid and how to differentiate yourself in this rapidly growing area of business. Get practical advice on how to build out your Branded Content offerings, and see examples of successful campaigns to generate new ideas."

Merves added: "Local branded content solutions harness the greatest asset of the local media company — their engaged, high-quality, brand-safe, local audiences. Branded content solutions represent one of the greatest opportunities for media companies to create revenue and relevance. When local media companies lead with branded content, they have the opportunity to win-back churned customers, welcome new customers and grow overall share of wallet."

Branded Content: The business of storytelling (Part 2)

Why is branded content a growing opportunity for local publishers? The answer lies with the audience. Ignite Visibility tells us that 70% of consumers want to learn about products through content! Discover how publishers are finding new advertisers and new audiences by focusing on the importance of storytelling with branded content initiatives. The Branded Content Project will share examples of what innovative publishers are building for their advertisers and their audiences. In this session we’ll cover:

  • Using branded content to reach new advertisers and new audiences with new content ideas.
  • Branded content is more than native articles. Why successful teams are expanding their use of video, audio, influencers, events, promotions and immersive branded experiences.
  • Creating an in-house studio or separate marketing brand.

Julia Campbell, branded content manager, The Branded Content Project

Eric Brandner, general manager, Creative Lab at McClatchy
Kurt Knapek, vice president/operations and digital media, The Post and Courier
Robin Gruen, vice president, creative and strategy, Tribune Publishing
Michelle Vielma, vice president of digital advertising, Skyline Studio, SCNG Media

"Branded content is an important revenue opportunity: Advertisers can’t be category leaders without it, and our industry of skilled storytellers is uniquely positioned to deliver it," says Brandner.  "And creating an internal team to execute it — even if you have to start small — is more doable than many think."

"From modern storytelling to premium brand experience," Vielma said, "we will explain how to excel in branded content marketing strategies and executions to help your clients deliver their messaging and drive results."

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