Defining and determining when and if to pitch branded content are two of the biggest challenges that publishers face when creating and selling branded content. Combatting confusion over wording has been one of our focuses for the first year of the Branded Content Project.
What’s the biggest question we get asked about branded content?
The question is always, “What the heck is it?”
Let’s start with our definition.
Branded content is defined as “… any sales initiative that uses content to engage the user and is paid for by a client who participates as part of the content, helps supply the content or sponsors the content that is distributed across any platform. Native advertising articles, social videos with a sponsor tag or element, product placement, sponsored live events, sponsored collections of stories or paid video segments are examples and included inside our definition of branded content.”
Armed with your new definition and you now know what branded content includes, we need to determine if there is a growing opportunity in the space.
That answer is a big “YES!” And we have numbers to prove it.
Now we have defined branded content, and we have determined there is a revenue opportunity for local media organizations and a solution for advertisers.
The next question we get asked: “How do we sell this?”
We have five strategies to help your sales teams succeed when prospecting, pitching, and presenting branded content as a solution for their clients.
When is branded content the right solution for an advertiser?
When you have a client who has a business with a high amount of information to explain or a good story to tell about their business, branded content is an excellent solution. If your client’s product involves a complex decision-making process, package up a branded content piece to their plan. Think of large purchases like homes, cars, or medical procedures.
Branded content also works well to introduce a new product or brand. And don’t forget about outside-the-box clients. Foster care companies, religious organizations, non-profit groups, and many others all have stories to tell that may not fit into a :30 spot or a display ad. Offer them an avenue to tell their story, educate the audience, provide solutions to problems.
What words should we listen for when meeting with an advertiser?
Our branded content teams learned from Armando Turco at Vox Media that in order to make sure you sell the right product, at the right time and to the right advertiser, you need to listen for the following keywords from that potential client. If you hear them use the words education, consideration, persuasion, research, or brand affinity, then branded content should be part of the solution you present to that advertiser.
What are the top categories of businesses we see using branded content?
In the spring of 2019, we gathered information from local media applicants to the branded content project’s alpha group. We discovered the most common categories of advertisers fall into health and wellness, financial and insurance, entertainment, retail, automotive, and travel. These are the most frequent advertising areas, but certainly branded content is a solution for many other categories of business.
Why will branded content work for your advertiser?
We’ve learned from working with local media teams, big and small, from across the country, that branded content is most effective when we answer the “why” they might need a content marketing solution. If your client is looking for increased likability, or want to be seen as an opinion or thought leader, then branded content should be in your pitch. Branded content can also help your client in search results.
By adding fresh content to their websites, they are more likely to be discovered by customers searching for those topics. Customers have questions to ask; your client can provide the answers through quality content. Providing your clients with content links and assets can also improve their social media traffic by giving them content and a reason to share information about their business.
Branded content campaigns can also increase a customer’s intent to buy while providing your client with long-lasting benefits since content lives on longer than an ad. Sharing, learning, and long-tail effects happen with engaging content, it’s tougher to attain with a display ad or a commercial spot.
What’s the biggest piece of advice we have for your advertisers and their clients?
The graphic below speaks for itself.
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