top of page
  • Writer's pictureLiz Hayes

5 Questions from The Meta Branded Content Project: Featuring Brand Ave. Studios

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

One of the best ways we learn about emerging trends and successful strategies in branded content are through the amazing local media professionals we've worked with over the last four years. We are launching a new Q&A series with local media digital advertising experts who know what it takes to succeed in this arena.

For our inaugural Building Cash with Branded Content interview, we spoke with Robin Gruen of Brand Ave. Studios at Lee Enterprises, who serves as Vice President of Content, Revenue & Strategy.

1. Tell us about your organization’s branded content strategy.

Robin: Our approach is to lead with stories, of course, but our strategy is truly full funnel; we call it "brand marketing" more than content marketing, which seems to resonate. While the story is the heart, there are other elements that can take the brand from awareness through to conversion. We know this is very important for most clients. Our brand marketing includes traditional articles and infographics, in addition to influencer marketing, experiential, video and of course, interactive content.

2. What’s been the most successful part of it?

Robin: We've seen great success across the board, but when we pair interactive content with traditional storytelling - add influencers into the mix - it can be very powerful.

3. What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently facing?

Robin: We struggle with how long it can take to close some of these deals. It's a different type of sale than traditional media and even digital tactics. This is truly strategic brand marketing, and this can mean multiple conversations; you have to truly get the client, and the client needs to feel the passion you bring to their story. Again, always thinking about ROI and their business objectives. The best creative doesn't win if it doesn't move the needle for the client.

4. What are you building next and where do you see the most growth potential in content marketing?

Robin: We continue to innovate in the interactive/video space. We now have shoppable video. I'd love to see how we can combine experiential with traditional to be a double whammy. Same is true for innovation within social, where storytelling is huge. Given how visual TikTok and Instagram are, for example, we continue to find custom solutions for clients who want to own this space.

5. What advice would you give for someone getting started in branded content sales & strategy?

Robin: Listen to what's working. Read a ton. We know that clients are spending in TikTok, influence marketing, etc. So although traditional storytelling might be in your DNA, you have to think outside the box to what the market is driving too.

Want to share your content marketing expertise? Please reach out at and you can be featured in an upcoming post!


The Meta Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Meta Journalism Project, Local Media Association and the Local Media Consortium to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.

83 views0 comments


bottom of page