The power yielded as a local media brand that is trusted, safe and always there for its audience to inform and engage can’t be underestimated. Recently, The Branded Content Project General Manager Julia Campbell and Nick Cicero, vice president of strategy at Conviva discussed branded content’s ability to fund journalism during the Online News Association’s conference session, Driving Revenue Through Social. Here are some key takeaways from the conversation.
Power of Local Media
There is a great advantage for brands, big and small, to align with local media companies to spread their message because media outlets already have large, targeted audiences. News organizations are experts at building loyal audiences by producing high quality content that readers, viewers, and listeners crave. This opens the door for brands to sponsor content and get their stories told on media platforms.
“Being able to do the types of things that publishers can do is actually extremely hard for brands, because it’s already hard enough for them to come up with the content to publish to their social channels, let alone build a real consistent strategy,” Campbell said.
Branded content that appears on publisher-owned and operated distribution channels and social media platforms will have a larger reach and more value to the advertiser. For the publisher, it’s a great way to monetize their social following and build additional inventory while extending the reach of existing campaigns.
What’s the Package
The content is going to be the foundation of a package that account executives will present to advertisers. But what are the other assets that are essential to make a campaign successful? Outlets need a compelling pitch deck and rate sheet and should consider having two options that a client can choose from. Companies should ask themselves whether to include sponsorship opportunities, videos, live-streaming events, and custom pieces of content.
“Think about how you’re going to add in some amplification, some distribution. That’s the one-two punch that everyone is going to need,” Campbell said.
Remember, local media companies have the power of audience and content creation.
“Not every business is going to have a dedicated social and content team or marketing team, even though we know how commonplace social marketing is today,” Cicero said.
That’s why local media companies are so crucial to all kinds of advertisers, because they can create content and distribute it on various channels to an already engaged audience. The Branded Content Project will always recommend solutions that also give media companies long term recurring monthly revenue. Annual campaigns will require a partnership with a brand.
“You think of them as a partner, you’re going to lend them your brand and let them have your audience,” Campbell said.
Just Add Video
Even if your publication doesn’t regularly produce videos as part of your strategy, you’ve got to learn how to incorporate videos into your branded content sales. Videos are just more engaging to audiences with their sight, sound and motion. Publishers should focus on creating video content for all of their platforms, while discussing with advertisers where they’d like to see videos.
“We know that the appetite for video content is increasing, but it's also costly, even though the costs have come down significantly, the cost to produce the video and then deliver it to an audience that is repeatable and consistent, can be very expensive,” Cicero said.
Not only will clients love having their brand attached to video, publishers will be able to charge more to produce them than printed content. He says if a brand wants a lot more exposure and presence, publishers can look at a video series to get their message across.
Focus on audience
Our favorite piece of advice to local media outlets when it comes to branded content is that you are selling your audience, not the content. That is truly where the power of the local media company comes in.
“It’s about creating some unique value propositions, what can you do that no one else can? What kind of content verticals can you create that one one else can do,” Campbell asked.
It’s also critical to create scarcity with the value. Our members who offer exclusivity to advertisers with a sponsored content campaign draw them in. That, coupled with being transparent about how the content and sponsorship will look, will also help close deals.
Account executives who are dealing with local businesses would be remiss to not consider how national topics can be hyper localized to fit an advertiser’s brand. For example, the cannabis industry is a growing one that also wrestles with limitations in advertising.
“They can’t run Facebook ads, they can’t run Google ads, they have to actually partner with people to create content in order to get their message out,” Cicero said. “Because there’s such a regulated industry, the outdoor industry, same way for fishing, ammunition, sports shooting, there’s all these other types of categories that actually can’t physically advertise using Facebook ads.”
This creates a large opportunity for local publishers to fill that need for these industries. They have money to spend; local media can earn new revenue by providing an advertising solution they need.
Content marketing is a growing field and The Branded Content Project is positioned to help all media companies expand their content strategy through turnkey solutions, training and sales support.
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The Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium, and the Facebook Journalism Project to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.