Publishers are exploring branded content as an alternative to straight display advertising. The rewards are significant, but it takes time to develop successful campaigns. Immediate media has established a dedicated content studio, Imagine, that works with brands and publishers to create successful branded content campaigns.
Jonathan Bown, a former editor who is now Commercial Content Director at Imagine, shared the inside story of three campaigns for Winalot, Lego Duplo and Dr Oetker at The Publishing Show.
Why trust is important
Immediate Media’s portfolio of specialist magazines that inspire readers’ passions includes BBC Good Food and BBC Gardeners World. Jonathan believes that the relationship of trust between Immediate’s magazine brands and readers is the foundation of great branded content campaigns. Publishers must take care not to undermine that trust, by involving editors from an early stage in the process. To quote William Morris, a further guiding principle is to include only items that are “useful or beautiful”.
Great British Dogs (Winalot)
Imagine created a standalone website to host readers’ images and stories explaining what makes their dog special. They made sure it was easy to use, and then promoted this to readers of several magazines including Radio Times, BBC Good Food and BBC Gardeners World). To date, around 6000 readers have submitted their stories, and the best are published on the website and in the supporting magazines. Imagine carefully chose celebrities to front the campaign – an Olympian and a Paralympian. The campaign struck an emotional chord and enjoyed great results (including winning a PPA award). Winalot were delighted with the campaign which exceeded all benchmarks and has a positive impact on consumer behaviour. https://www.greatbritishdogs.co.uk/
Take 10 to play (Lego Duplo)
Imagine identified a problem for parents – knowing what games to play with their young children in a short space of time. With the editorial team at Made For Mums, they developed a series of simple games suitable for 10 minute slots. They then created an online “spinner” which generated games randomly. This spinner was used 1 million times during the campaign. Made For Mums had a list of parents who were “nano influencers” and prepared to get involved, and asked them to record videos of themselves playing the games with their children. Engagement and dwell time were excellent and lots of families reported going to buy Lego Duplo!
Joy in the baking (Dr Oetker)
Working with the editorial teams of BBC Good Food and Olive, Imagine created a site for bakers of all abilities featuring forty recipes, half provided by Dr Oetker and half produced using editorial insight into trends and user behaviour. Then they created photo and video assets for the recipes. The campaign ran in lockdown, and some ingredients were hard to find, so they used data from BBC Good Food on recipe searches to prioritise which recipes to push via traffic drivers and social content. The campaign reached 17 million, and the time spent on the videos showed that the recipes were being cooked! Plus, competition entries beat targets fivefold.
Top tips for branded content campaigns
- Do your research first – identify a problem or information need
- Involve the editorial team at an early stage
- Create content that is useful (and beautiful) – it could be a stand-alone property like Great British Dogs rather than just a magazine feature
- Think about the user journey and ensure it is easy (and fun) to access
- Involve the audience if you can
- Measure the results – both quantitative views and data and qualitative surveys
Jonathan and the Imagine team believe that following this process means that the reader’s trust is preserved, and the client sees the marketing benefits.
If you’d like to discuss how to develop branded content campaigns in your media business, please get in touch for a discussion over a real or virtual coffee.
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014) she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.