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Ask the publisher Feb article 2023

Five ideas to enhance your branded content

Published: 27 Feb 2023

Consumers are increasingly becoming ad blind. Most of us skip pre-roll adverts as soon as we get the chance, and while the global average CTR for banner ads is disputed, it’s generally agreed to be well under 0.5%. Advertisers are increasingly seeking ways to engage authentically with their audiences in seamless, non-intrusive manners that inform, entertain or inspire. Branded content provides the buy-side with the opportunity to meet those objectives and tap into a treasure trove of first-party data. But how can you make sure that a publisher-advertiser partnership delivers the maximum value for all parties?

We reached out to five of our publisher partners to get their perspective on what advertisers and agencies should be considering in order to take branded and commercial partnerships with publishers to the next level.

A successful partnership should deliver for both sides.

The most successful partnerships are ones that are truly win/win; where the content created is genuinely native to the platform, providing real value to the user and tangible results for the client. Tips for winning partnerships:

Cath Waller, MD, Advertising, Immediate Media

Trust publishers to know their audiences

Whatever the objectives may be, for any true branded content campaign to be deemed a success, it should be organically consumed through the channels it is running across.

This means trusting the media owner, the environment, on occasion the talent, and definitely the audience to know what good looks like. If the end result is a re-written press release or requires disproportionate social spend to deliver views, then you’ve probably taken a wrong turn.

Put the quality of the content first, worry less about the timings of your front card or mirroring your display campaign and you’ll more likely end up with a partnership that your audience actually wants to engage with - get this right and the rest will follow.

David Dumville, Director of Content Solutions, News UK

Be fearless – and leave time for creativity to thrive

In 2023, it would be great to see more clients and agencies being fearless in their approach to partnerships and embrace change. Yes, there is plenty of uncertainty around us, but the best work is produced when our clients trust us. At VICE Media Group, we've always driven innovation when it comes to storytelling and people first narratives, focussing on community and our place in culture versus chasing the latest tech or platform trends. And what do we really need to make this happen? Time - no one wants to be working to prohibitively tight timelines, which can inhibit true creativity. Allow us the time to respond to your briefs, and then ultimately the lead time to produce them to ensure the utmost quality and boundless creativity out there.

Iddy de Viell, Associate Business Director, VICE Media

Be open to new ideas.

My top tip for advertisers is to be open to working with publishers collaboratively when looking for new ways to engage audiences, as the opportunities for innovative brand integration can be really interesting. Recently, we’ve been working with our advertising partners who have had great heritage and success with broadcast radio campaigns and they're now exploring what their brief might look like in podcasts, digital audio, and outdoor.

Going way beyond standard sponsorships and host reads, this has led to great creative work with brands as diverse as the British Heart Foundation, who interrupted commercial ads with the sound of a heart monitor flatlining and an important fundraising message, LEGO who entered into the world of branded podcasts, Channel 4 who created bespoke podcast segments to promote First Dates Hotel, and last but not least, Peleton who worked with us to create a unique multi-platform campaign in partnership with Heart and Elizabeth Day’s chart-topping podcast How To Fail with Elizabeth Day.

Tony McAllister Partnerships Development Director, Global

Champion publishers who have similar values to you

Commercial partnerships that cut through the noise, create the most tangible results and have a real impact on audiences are those that champion purpose. Consumers are increasingly expecting brands to speak out on important societal issues that they may be facing, and there is power in partnering with a publisher who is already tackling these subjects head on.

Look to publishers who are spotlighting causes relevant to your brand, and see how you can join forces to amplify actionable change. This purpose driven branded content will set you apart from your competitors and allow you to connect with your target audience on a deeper level than just traditional storytelling.

Take HELLO!’s initiative as an example - we launched the Workplace Menopause Pledge in 2021 to help break taboos amongst our audience and empower societal change, and created dedicated menopause environments to host content. Since then, we have partnered authentically with brands wanting to lend support to the cause and strengthen their own consumer position in the menopause market. Through purpose-driven partnerships like this, with publishers who have a unique and close relationship with their audience, you can achieve impactful results, improve brand consideration and increase trust.

Arianna Chatzidakis, Creative Content Director, HELLO! Magazine


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