Can throwing a beautiful birthday party increase revenue for a local branded content initiative? The team from Localish proves that it can! Tying their unique brand into an event focused on sales team and advertiser education, highlights the best parts of Localish, while gracefully showing off their strategy and their success.
Background on the Branded Content Project:
The Branded Content Project, funded by the Facebook Journalism Project in partnership with Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium, has challenged the project alpha group to create large action plans and take giant leaps toward new revenue possibilities with branded content.
The seven teams have jumped into enormous initiatives and are seeing the first round of results come in with exciting success. Graham Media Group’s Taking Off initiative was our first feature; our second was The Dallas Morning News and their FWD > DFW initiative; our third was Shaw Media and their work toward improving reporting for advertisers; our fourth is WRAL’s multiple branded content initiatives and their efforts toward a re-branding campaign that will grow revenue, advertisers, awareness and help educate along the way; our fifth is Creative Lab @McClatchy’s use of events to educate advertisers and account executives. The sixth feature focuses on a uniquely branded event hosted by Localish, a content series from the ABC Owned Television Stations, which highlights the good in American cities.
What is Localish? According to their page housed within ABC.com, Localish introduces audiences to “Good food. Good people. Good living. Localish is all about bringing out the good in America’s cities. Our locally-sourced stories transcend city limits so you can live like a local wherever you go.”
Jennifer Mitchell, senior vice president of content development for the ABC Owned Television Stations and Localish, explains the branded content strategy behind Localish. “The ABC Owned Television Stations have worked to integrate branded content into our larger multi-platform sales strategy, offering clients a range of opportunities from sponsorship of existing verticals and series, to fully custom content integrations. The strength of our broadcast brands serves as a megaphone to amplify digital-first initiatives, offering clients the opportunity to connect with audiences on all screens and platforms. OTV’s new Localish brand has opened up additional opportunities to connect with new audiences and new advertisers with its digital-first perspective and fresh narrative style.”
The power of Localish comes from the stories about the communities around all of us. Their voice is authentic and youthful and reaches national audiences across platforms while creating a brand-safe environment for advertisers.
Michael Koenigs, executive producer for Localish, explains the unique connection between telling stories and building sales relationships. “We’re focused on experiential marketing as a way to build sales relationships and drive revenue growth. Since Localish is such a new brand and we’re telling stories in ways that feel distinctly different from traditional broadcast products, the more we can do to expose buyers to who we are, the better. We believe that letting potential clients immerse themselves in the world of Localish and getting to know our creators will help them see all the possibilities for ways to align their brands with ours.”
Advertisers have the opportunity to join specific content inside the Localish overarching brand. Secretly Awesome, Glam Lab, More in Common, Bite Size and Out of Office are just a few of the focused content areas that live inside Localish.
The results for businesses that align themselves with Localish content and become part of that content are impressive. The reason for advertiser success comes back to the storytelling. One of the corporate sponsors for the “Secretly Awesome” series was a small business insurance company called Hiscox. Hiscox sponsored multiple segments about small, local businesses like the 15-year-old “Sauce Boss” and “Luffa Gardens” generating massive views of the segments which created brand awareness and significant sales for those businesses.
Branded content and content marketing have been successful avenues for Localish for multiple reasons according to Mitchell, “as the digital media landscape evolves, organizations can no longer rely on conventional media buys as the sole source of digital revenue. Additionally, media-savvy, younger audiences are seeking out “authentic” experiences and have shifting expectations around conventional advertising. Branded content creates the opportunity for advertisers to connect with that audience in a way that speaks to their interest and worldview.”
Erin Albertson, digital sales manager for Localish and Disney Ad Sales, explains the benefits for advertisers, “We want to give our brand partners the ability to align with Localish through multiple avenues when it comes to content. Whether it be sponsoring any of our franchise video series, customizing their brand message and attributes within any of our current series, developing new programming, or aligning with the many tentpoles and brands within the Disney Advertising Sales umbrella. The goal is to partner with advertisers to hit key audiences in a unique and authentic way.”
Koenigs also sees potential in the future, “Localish is at a really exciting point for our brand. We’ve hit 200 million lifetime video views across platforms and have almost 400,000 social fans across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. We celebrated our first anniversary and we’re looking ahead to what we want to accomplish in Year 2. We’re close to launching a few new series (some of which already have been sponsored!) and starting to look more at long-form content on linear platforms and YouTube.”
Albertson says one of their headline sponsors, Hiscox, has seen significant success in their campaign, “We have been fortunate to work with an incredible partner, Hiscox Insurance, and wanted to measure the effectiveness their brand alignment had with consumers of Localish content. We executed a brand study on behalf of the campaign and found that after consuming branded content across Localish platforms – viewers were more likely to engage with our advertisers, there was a 42% increase in purchase consideration for Hiscox insurance, 7/10 were interested in finding out more about the advertiser, and we saw ~64% brand lift – all incredibly positive results to showcase the importance of advertising partnerships and authentic integration.”
The reality of the intense need for education hit home when the Branded Content Project conducted advertiser focus groups and executive interviews in coordination with Magid. The results clearly state the need for more education all around, from advertisers to sales teams to audiences.
When we first started working with our alpha partners, we asked what advice they would give teams taking their first steps with branded content. Mitchell explained that it really is about good content, but the sales team is the key to success.
“Branded content is just as much about the content as it is our commitment to our clients. It’s not about producing an advertorial; rely on your strengths as storytellers to create an experience that provides value for your audience and then think about a way to organically integrate the client,” she said. “You also need informed, educated sellers to successfully bring your product to market. Selling content can involve a different set of skills for teams accustomed to selling linear spots, display, and pre-roll.”
For Team Localish, the solution to the gap in advertiser and sales team education was a Localish branded event that would show off the strengths of the content and unique advertiser environment. And the first anniversary of the Localish brand was the perfect reason to throw a big branded birthday party! Celebrating what Localish has accomplished and what’s to come is the perfect way to “educate internal teams and potential advertisers about our brand and sponsorship opportunities,” according to Rachel Schwartz, director of content operations at ABC Owned Television Stations. The event included a panel discussion with Localish leadership and opportunities for conversation between clients, sellers and content creators.
“We want to educate our sellers and advertisers about the value of Localish by bringing them into the Localish family, at least for one day,” she said.
The results of a beautiful mix of high-quality branding and a big birthday party were on full display at the event. Check out the party profile in the video below.
The New York City-based event was a smashing success. A panel of experts from the Localish team presented video and details about the benefits of sponsorship with Localish, the quality content being created and the ability to highlight local businesses in a unique way. The celebratory vibe at the event featured bowling, ping pong and skee ball for the guests. A custom cocktail called the “Out of Office” was poured and gift bags – loaded with items from previous businesses highlighted by Localish – included taffy, hot sauce, luffa sponges, and fortune cookies – all tied to Localish stories.
And the party becomes the content. The event venue will be featured in a future Localish segment, helping to manage costs of the event and show another example of how content marketing can work for local media companies.
Several general managers and general sales managers from other ABC Owned Television Stations were on the guest list. Sharing the success of the event and extending the learnings from the New York team will add to potential growth and revenue possibilities for the Localish brand and ABC.
Schwartz pinpointed why working with the Branded Content Project alpha group during event planning has been beneficial.
“Working with other alpha partners in The Branded Content Project has allowed us to learn from what they’re doing in the live event space – everything from event pacing and how we measure success, to recommendations on interesting ways to insert messaging through items like cocktail napkins.”
“Bringing people together to celebrate what’s good all across America is a core part of the Localish brand and our event is an extension of that – connecting our sellers with potential clients and our content creators to engage authentically with our product. It’s definitely a growth opportunity for our business but we’re having fun while we do it,” Schwartz said.
How did the Localish team measure results from the events? Post-event surveys, sales team check-ins and follow up education meetings with account executives were part of the multi-layered post-event progress updates.
The surveys were sent to party attendees and showed positive reactions and immediate impact for the Localish brand.
The team continues to track RFPs, closed business and feedback from the local teams. And there are many new businesses and new renewals to keep the flow of stories and revenue coming for year two and beyond.
Albertson also went on the road, taking the materials used for the event to each sales team to extend the Localish excitement and success to every station. “Following the event, we also led a series of internal meetings to refresh our sales force across the country and showcase the power behind the brand, along with best practices for custom content. It is incredibly important to further education across our sales teams and invest in the future of digital content.”
“We are so excited about the future of Localish and the opportunities and experiences that we can create for our clients. Through our partnerships, we are able to customize uniquely compelling packages comprised of premium storytelling that we deliver to audiences across all platforms,” said Albertson.
We will continue to document and share Localish’s progress with their initiative and the results from all our alpha partners at sellbranded.com.