Browsing articles from "February, 2013"

Future of Media Preview: Q&A with Digiday’s Josh Sternberg

Feb 25, 2013   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  2 Comments

Josh SternbergIn our third Future of Media Preview Q&A interview, we talk to Josh Sternberg, a reporter at digital media news outlet Digiday. He tracks the marketing industry’s transition from an analog to a digital world, often looking at how brands and advertisers are shifting to content marketing campaigns.

He’ll be speaking at our Future of Media event in Toronto on March 14, along with Jonathan Perelman, Vice President of Agency Strategy and Development for BuzzFeed; Steve Ladurantaye, media reporter at the Globe & Mail; and Sabaa Quao, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Journal Inc. and co-founder of /newsrooms.

He talked to us about what interests him about this field, how the Net has democratized information and the role live events play in propelling a brand’s message.

Tell us how you first got interested in reporting on content marketing and digital media. What intrigues you most about this space?

Sternberg: I just kind of fell into it, actually. I started my career as an adjunct professor teaching, among other courses, media theory and really enjoyed it. After academia, I went into PR and got a good understanding of how companies work with reporters on certain stories. And after a while, and seeing many reporters miss the bigger story, I wanted to spend more time writing.

So I jumped to the reporting side. Since I’ve been writing about digital media, one recurring theme has been this transition to content marketing, where brands see themselves as publishers. I think this is a fascinating evolution from the content marketing of previous mass media — like how soap operas started on radio, sponsored by, you guessed it, soap companies like P&G, Dial and Colgate to TV, with Texaco Star Theater. Content marketing isn’t new, just the medium it’s delivered in — and, of course, the nuance.

You have seen how branded content has increased substantially over the years. What do you attribute this to?

Sternberg: The easiest answer is because the Internet has torn down the top-down dictum between brands and publishers, and consumers. It’s now a two-way street, so brands need to have content to provide to consumers. The more interesting answer is that because the Internet has democratized information, brands need to work harder to try to persuade people to buy their products.

We have any answer at our fingertips, making it easy for people to research, and then decide, which product they want or service they want to use. Branded content, however, tries to appeal to the emotions of the consumer. “Let’s create content people will like, therefore, they’ll like us or think of us when purchasing,” a brand might say. It’s advertising that’s moved back to the message, the qualitative, compared to the metric-heavy, quantitative DR-driven the Internet has been working off of these past two decades.

What brands “get” content marketing and how are they implementing initiatives appreciated by their industry and consumers?

Sternberg: G.E. gets it. The company is not only on every platform, but uses each platform differently. What you might see on its Instagram, a behind-the-scenes image of, say building a turbine is completely different than what you might see on one of their Tumblrs about innovation.

Of course, one can’t talk about content marketing without talking about Red Bull, the current kings of content. They had someone break the sound barrier by jumping to Earth from the heavens.

What role do live events, such as the Super Bowl, play for brands looking to bring real-time content marketing into their “mission control” centers? Who’s the leader in this area?

Sternberg: Brands are starting to slowly figure out that they now live in an “always on” era. Live events can generate brand lift, as we saw with Oreo during the Super Bowl blackout.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, there was a backlash against Poland Spring who did not take advantage of Senator Marco Rubio’s parched rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union. The problem for many brands, however, of being in an “always on” era is that there needs to be a staff devoted to this, which brands might not have the capabilities or temperament to pull off. Turning a brand into a newsroom culture is difficult. Brands also need to make sure legal is involved, which can be tough. The ideal situation, again, using Oreo as an example, is to have legal, marketing and execs in the room for these live events. Not every brand is there yet.

Predict one content marketing trend likely to take off in the next few years, something you don’t think anyone will expect.

Sternberg: I’m no prognosticator. However, one thing that might be interesting would be the pendulum swinging back to user-generated content as a way to complement or enhance or even create new content marketing opportunities.

The upcoming Future of Media event will take place Thursday, March 14, 2013 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public. Note: Seating is limited so it will be first-come, first-served. Previous events have hit capacity very quickly so early arrival is highly recommended.

For other Future of Media Q&As, go to our interviews with:
Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman
Globe & Mail Steve Ladurantaye

Future of Media Preview: A Q&A with Globe & Mail’s Steve Ladurantaye

Feb 15, 2013   //   by admin   //   Blog, Future of Media 2013, Media blog  //  2 Comments

 

The Future of Media event is under a month away, and we want to whet your appetite for the insightful analysis from media leaders from across North America. We first told you about BuzzFeed’s Jonathan Perelman and his views on content marketing. Now you can learn more about the intersection of advertising and journalism from Steve Ladurantaye, media reporter for Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper, who will also appear at our March 14 event in Toronto.

Ladurantaye covers print media, publishing, broadcasting, but also touches on issues related to sports and entertainment businesses. As he describes his work day, he spends “a lot of time reading financials and talking to executives about what they are doing to salvage their businesses in some of the toughest conditions the industry has ever seen.”

We chatted with him about the role of branded content in journalism, emerging business models for newspaper and where he sees the Globe & Mail in five years.

Since we’re talking about branded content at Future of Media, tell us what you think about the rise in brand journalism, both in Canada and abroad? Is this good for journalists? The media field?

Anything that helps replace the money papers are losing on the print advertising side is good for journalists, provided we’re not crossing any ethical lines as we blur editorial and advertising. And that’s where the biggest misconceptions lie – branded content isn’t the same as advertorial. For as long as there have been trade magazines and papers, there have been special sections that run off of an editorial calendar so that the ad department can sell around the content.
Steve Ladurantaye
But the advertiser has no say in the actual content, except maybe in a very broad sense (i.e. they’ll buy ad space as long as the stories are about a certain industry). So would a newspaper necessarily be all that interested in writing a series on the sustainable fibreglass Christmas tree industry? Probably not – but if an advertiser wants to underwrite that I’m sure there are some interesting stories to tell.

And while that’s all happening, the rest of the journalism gets to keep happening in the rest of the paper. Ideal situation? I’m not sure. But I personally prefer it to letting that money walk out the door permanently.

Your newspaper recently featured a piece about brand journalism. “Businesses that do it properly can create a huge competitive advantage, while increasing their credibility and relevancy in the marketplace.” Do you agree?

Sure. But first of all let’s call brand journalism what it is – it’s just PR with a fancy name. Think of how awesome it is for NASA to be its own broadcaster when it launches a piece of machinery to Mars and starts bossing it around. Is it good for the brand? I’m sure the positivity of it all casts a warm glow on the companies that do it well.

But I still think there’s something to be said for getting that same exposure from an outside source that is able to broaden the story, put it in context and package it in a way that makes it understandable. And this probably goes without saying – but in terms of the broader public discourse I’m not sure anyone would want to see a world where the main source of corporate news is the corporations themselves.

The media industry is still in turmoil. Paywalls are coming up to try to drive digital revenue. Social media managers are scrambling to ensure content goes viral. What do you see as a prescription for success for a print media outlet in Canada? What would you recommend to a publisher looking for advice?

If I was in a position to give publishers advice I’d be making a lot more money than the typical reporter, I suspect. But the one thing that I hear from a lot of people who spend their time thinking about this sort of thing is that the only advantage media companies have over their competitors at this point is staff – there are simply few other sources in any given community that can match the reporting firepower of the local newspaper.

Lots of other functions can be outsourced and centralized, but the true competitive advantage of companies who rely on content to make money are the people who generate that content. I think in the coming years we’ll see that owning and operating everything else – distribution, printing, HR, office management – will increasingly be seen as expensive luxuries.

Where do you see a publication like the Globe in five years from now? How will it look, how will it be consumed by readers?

I don’t think anyone knows that answer to that. The only thing we can do – and I’m speaking in generic terms here and not about any one paper – is make sure we’re investing the money that we are making now to build something that is going to start making money for us down the road.

What’s that going to be? Considering the pace of change and the way it’s accelerating – I think maybe we should start investing in news androids we can program to visit each subscriber’s house every morning. They could make them coffee and give them massages while reading them the day’s news. That would totally save journalism.

For our Q&A with Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed, also appearing at Future of Media on March 14, go here.

Future of Media Preview: A Q&A with BuzzFeed’s Jonathan Perelman

Feb 12, 2013   //   by admin   //   Future of Media 2013, Media blog  //  No Comments

Media leaders from across North America will join a panel discussion at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event in Toronto on March 14, and we’re happy to have BuzzFeed represented at this event. Jonathan Perelman, Vice President of Agency Strategy and Development, focuses on educating advertising agencies on the BuzzFeed platform and ad products, known as a pioneer in sponsored content.

Before joining BuzzFeed, Perelman spent six years at Google, most recently as the Global Lead for Industry Relations.

To give you a taste of what he’ll discuss on March 14, Perelman answered questions about content marketing, the rise of the mobile Web, and why it’s important to create the most shareable online content.

 

Explain what you do daily at BuzzFeed and what your average day looks like.

Perelman: My days are all different which makes things exciting.  I spend lots of time meeting with agencies and clients, educating the marketplace on BuzzFeed, our offerings, native advertising, developing a newsroom and more.  I’m working on creating deals with agencies to have an always-on strategy, as those campaigns work best.  I’m also doing a lot of work building our strategy for international expansion.

I always try to keep up on what’s happening in the industry, and I’ve been doing lots of speaking engagements.  I also advise a politician, involved with foreign policy groups and non-profits, involved in a few start-ups and most importantly I have a wife and two amazing boys at home.

What has BuzzFeed done with its native advertising initiatives and how would you rate its success? What metric do you use to analyze efficacy?

Perelman: The only advertising we do is native.  We have never run a traditional banner ad, and firmly believe that native and content is the future of advertising.   I think we’re doing a great job ;), and the growth of our business seems to prove this out.  More and more agencies and brands are coming to us to get into the native ‘advertorial’ game.  We have over an 80% renewal rate (advertisers keep coming back), which is a testament to how well the product works.  As for measuring the success of a campaign, we are driven to create the most shareable content on the web.

Our editors are doing that with amazing original reporting, and on the business side we are doing that with captivating, shareable ads.  We average a 30% earned media lift (through sharing on the social networks) for campaigns, and we’re always looking to beat that benchmark.   Engagement beats scale every time in my book!

How has your experience at Google informed your work at BuzzFeed?

Perelman: Google is among the most innovative companies in the history of the world, and that spark never leaves you.  I learned so much from so many people, but a quote from Larry (CEO) ‘have a healthy disregard for the impossible’ is something I think about everyday.  Five years ago the notion of a self-driving car was the stuff of science fiction; it will be in a dealership near you in the next five years. You learn that it’s important to have audacious goals and shoot for the moon.  Google’s an amazing place; I’m honored to have been a part of it.

When you joined BuzzFeed, you were quoted in a press release stating “BuzzFeed is providing the product that agencies and holding companies are asking for…” Can you elaborate on how BuzzFeed is doing this?

Perelman: The notion of social, content marketing is something that I was hearing more and more from agencies and brands.  Many have called 2013 as the year of content marketing and budgets are growing.  I saw a study recently that said 70% of companies will use content marketing this year.  I think this stems from the past several years brands were driving likes and followers, doing a great job of growing a base of fans.

However, they are asking ‘now what?’  The answer is content that is shareable, that’s exactly what we are doing at BuzzFeed.

What do you see as the challenges for brands to adopt a comprehensive content marketing program?

Perelman: The biggest challenge for bands is running the first campaign.  With 70% of brands expecting to do content marketing this year, that barrier will be overcome.  Often a brand wants to get it 100% right the first time. Content marketing is a process and brands have to be willing to give it appropriate attention, budget and people.

Brands should have realistic expectations for these campaigns, and know the more you do, the better they become.

What ‘s the future of social advertising? Where do you think it’ll go, globally?

Perelman: I think we are finally starting to get over calling it ‘digital media’ and now just calling it ‘media’.  I hope we are also close to stop talking about mobile as a separate and distinct entity.  Having a mobile strategy today is like having a laptop strategy 15 years ago.

With that said, the future is the mobile web.  Over 1/3 of American adults own a tablet, and in the last 7 years Android and iOS have gone from 0% to 45% of operating systems connecting to the web.  North America will lead the pack, however, Europe and Australia will be right behind.  Soon after that Asia and Latin America will see the value and jump in.  There has never been a more exciting time to be in this industry.

The upcoming Future of Media event will take place Thursday, March 14, 2013 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public. Note: Seating is limited so it will be first-come, first-served. Previous events have hit capacity very quickly so early arrival is highly recommended.

Blog Categories