If we gave your organization funding and resources to test something — anything — in the branded content space:

What would you do?

What would your team do?

What would create the most revenue opportunity for your local media organization?

That is EXACTLY the question we posed to 22 local media organizations when we started the beta round of the Branded Content Project, a partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium and funded by the Facebook Journalism Project.

All 22 media teams are meeting the challenge with innovative ideas and strategic plans that will grow revenue and new advertisers.

Round 1:

Let’s take a look at the first six testing groups.

Newsday‘s Brand360 Branded Content Studio will test adaptation and use of long- and short-term video as a branded content and sponsored advertising medium for small local businesses on Long Island. Their new sales strategy will bundle video as part of overall branded content sponsored sales and provide detailed measurement during and post-campaign using reputable, third-party reporting tools. Team Newsday will utilize an independent third-party measurement software, Adobe Analytics for Media: Video Analytics Software, to gauge and report the effectiveness of video as a branded content format, as well as a part of a larger, cross-platform bundle.

Nannette Fevola, senior director of client solutions and ad sales marketing for Newsday, is excited about the addition of video.

“Branded content has had wide appeal among Long Island businesses since Newsday launched our Brand360 content studio in 2016,” she said. “Together, with companies across all categories of business, we have changed the way consumers engage with client messaging – and we’ve made it easy and affordable. Adding video to the mix is the logical next step for Newsday’s Brand360 studio and one we are already seeing great interest in.”

Learn more about Team Newsday here:

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s goal for the Branded Content Project is to create a sponsored-based, proof-of-concept podcast that their sales team can bring to the market in the Philadelphia region. Marianella Orlando, content marketing manager for the Philadelphia Inquirer, explains.

“This will be the very first time that the advertising department at The Inquirer will be utilizing and creating an audio product within the branded content realm,” she said. “We plan to use the grant to fund the creation and promotion of a sponsored podcast episode. We believe this will provide The Inquirer with a unique, competitive advantage and help increase advertising revenue.”

For the initial phase of producing a sponsored podcast, the Philadelphia team will create a proof-of-concept episode that they can add to their current branded content portfolio. Currently, this is not a product that is provided as a solution for their advertisers.

Learn more about Team Philadelphia Inquirer here:

Mundo Hispano Digital, Inc. will acquire video equipment to produce three marketing videos explaining what branded content is and why Mundo Hispanico is a distinguished provider of branded content for the Latino audience. The audience for the marketing video series will be agencies, media buyers and brands looking to make inroads with the Hispanic community. The acquisition of video equipment will expand their production capabilities by enabling Mundo Studios, their branded content production arm, to produce more content from the field and on location, especially Facebook Live videos which Mundo Studios can sell as premium video content. The marketing videos will be promoted via LinkedIn and other social media channels and live on the Mundo Studios homepage.

The Mundo Hispanico team plans to test the success of newly created marketing videos by comparing the results of a survey to their sales and customer-facing staff before and after the project. They will also send a survey to their current and potential clients before and after the project.

“Additionally, we will measure the effectiveness of the marketing videos through simple social media metrics, said Tarana Mayes, director of communications and partnerships for Mundo Hispanico. “Examples would be views and likes on LinkedIn and Facebook, etc. For our clients, we will use CrowdTangle for branded content to measure the effectiveness of the branded videos we produce and compare their performance against industry competitors.”

Learn more about Team Mundo Hispanico here:

Swift Communications will be testing the direct correlation between a well-developed and successfully implemented training program for sales teams in order to grow revenue. Swift will be using four years of historic branded content revenue as a benchmark and will be able to coordinate 2020 sales and client-facing training with the new Swift Sales Trainer, and begin measuring revenue growth immediately. Their project will involve the creation and production of sales training videos and training materials that will extend revenue growth across all of Swift’s sales teams.

Lauren Glendenning, Swift’s director of sponsored content, is looking forward to the process.

“It’s refreshing to know that other media organizations have also struggled to effectively train and educate their sales teams on branded content,” she said. “I feel incredibly optimistic about the training programs we’re now designing as part of this project and I’m excited to see how these new tools help us grow our branded content revenue.”

Learn more about Team Swift Communications here:

TAPinto’s initiative involves further building out the DIY functionality on their TAPinto local news sites to enable readers, nonprofits, and businesses to pay through the site itself to have the content they have published on TAPinto promoted on Facebook. The payments will be distributed to their TAPinto franchisees. The system will enable local businesses and others to utilize Facebook’s Paid Partnership program from a local news perspective and create a new revenue stream to sustain local journalism. Team TAPinto will utilize the grant money toward creating this new advertising option. Once the development work is complete, TAPinto will market the opportunity to potential businesses and begin tracking revenue growth across all TAPinto local news sites.

Mike Shapiro, CEO and publisher of TAPinto, is looking forward to new growth from the first few months of the project.

“Through the Branded Content Project, we have already learned a lot including cutting-edge social media strategies and how to best present branded content to prospective advertisers,” he said. “We have also begun to learn from fellow publishers and develop relationships with them. Being part of the Branded Content Project has been a fantastic experience so far and we look forward to continuing to learn and grow.”

Learn more about Team TAPinto here:

Entravision will work with RedefineU to film and create two sizzle reels and put together the complete Branded Content pitch, video, and deck. The videos will be focused on their NoticiasYa Socio brand and how it can relate to their digital capabilities.

“We will also include a separate sizzle on the branded content solutions for broadcast in local markets as an option for those that have TV and Radio like Denver,” said Luisa Collins, VP of news for Entravision. “The footage we create will allow us to also have longer-form videos for each separate solution which allows us to not only educate the clients but educate our sales staff on our capabilities. We will then host a party at our station to present to our vendors and advertisers in the market, the new approach our company is taking towards branded content surrounding both the Socio brand and broadcast. We will then bring the presentation to market, and propose it to advertisers and agencies who showed interest and/or couldn’t attend the event.”

Following 90-120 days of launch, the team will look to customize this plan for two additional Entravision markets and test there, launching to the entire company following the additional market tests.

Learn more about Team Entravision here: