Browsing articles tagged with " future of media"

Future of Media 2013 recap: Branded content wooing brands, media

Mar 15, 2013   //   by admin   //   Blog, Media blog  //  2 Comments

Branded content, or content marketing, could save journalism from its financial precipice while also giving brands a 24/7 strategy to entice new fans, the audience heard at the recent Future of Media event in Toronto’s Drake Hotel.

Digital Journal hosted an insightful panel discussion on the role of branded content both in journalism and the brand communities. Taking place March 14 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel, the Future of Media talk invited respected speakers to offer their perspective on a topic on the tips of many tongues.Speakers included: Josh Sternberg, reporter at digital media news outlet Digiday; Steve Ladurantaye, media reporter at the Globe & Mail; Joseph Barbieri, former VP Content Solutions at TC Transcontinental and on the board of directors for the Custom Content Council in New York City; and Sabaa Quao, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Journal Inc. and co-founder of /newsrooms.

The theme of the night looked at branded content’s increased visibility while also touching on the challenges news outlets and brands face when adopting a content marketing strategy.Hosted by Digital Journal editor-in-chief David Silverberg, the event began with a broad question on how branded content should be positioned in today’s branded marketplace. Ladurantaye quickly said it’s not a matter of if brands and media should adopt branded content but to what extent. “Brands are producing content at the speed of digital,” Sternberg also noted.

The conversation quickly turned to the controversy over The Atlantic giving the Church of Scientology a branded piece of content. Sternberg said the client’s polarizing nature may have raised the ire of readers, but he stressed the content was clearly marked as sponsored, so why the big deal?

Branded content is an essential revenue stream to fund the rest of journalism,” Ladurantaye added.

So who’s doing it right, the panel was asked? Quao said, “Brands and ad agencies aren’t built to create custom content efficiently or effectively,” but pointed out how Red Bull is winning acclaim for their content marketing work. He liked the Red Bull Stratos project, a space diving event involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. “At this point Red Bull is a media company, they produce so much content,” Quao added.

“It’s not exactly media, but Rogers has a relationship with L’Oreal. Very seamless and profitable,” Ladurantaye said.

A veteran in the content marketing space, Barbieri said brands don’t need to try to be media. “They just need to borrow the talents and skill sets journalists have,” he added.Next the panel discussed the positioning of user-generated content in branded stories, and Quao said, “It’s free and random, but it’s mostly bad.”

Sternberg agreed, saying the cream will always rise to the top, and curation by skilled editors is still needed to find the right content from ambassadors and users.

Quality work comes from professionals, the panelists stressed.

Next the issue of journalists finding work in branded content businesses became a hot topic, with Ladurantaye saying if he were out of a job tomorrow, he would write for a company in a second. He got laughs but was he joking?

Ladurantaye then added, “Working for a brand isn’t being a journalist: it’s just using journalistic skills. It’s PR.”

Quao countered by saying what Ford creates on its site could be considered journalism since it’s offering value to readers. Sternberg expressed some disbelief, saying, “Would you really go to that source when all they write about is Ford cars?”

“Producing branded content isn’t out of the question for journalists. But don’t call it journalism,” Ladurantaye argued. “Brands respect the audience as human beings, said Barbieri. “They see opportunity to use the skills journalists have.”

Quao agreed by saying the flexibility and nimble nature of newsrooms gives brands some inspiration to emulate. Sternberg wasn’t agreeing, saying brands and news outlet are two distinct entities who shouldn’t learn from each other.

Ladurantaye voiced concern that brands would be confusing the issue by giving journalism free reign in their content marketing spaces, instead of calling it like it is: PR with a fancy name. “Journalism is about balance, getting two sides of a story and this branded content stuff is nothing like that.”

Follow the money, Sternberg added to this point. Who is paying for what? Who has control over a writer’s stories?

So what can brands learn from news media? Quao said, “Look at how news breaks, how stories form…things can often be messy but that’s OK.”

But real-time coverage exposes serious risks, Ladurantaye said. In the Red Bull space-diving example, what if Felix’s face had melted during that jump?

Brands are not held to the same standard as correcting mistakes as media outlets have been, Sternberg said. Discussing how businesses can stand out in a busy content marketplace, Barbieri said, “It’s not just about selling something. It’s about engagement, discussion, brand reputation.”

Brand that invest in people, process and quality will succeed. That was the overarching message from this topic, the audience heard.

he panel then agreed brands and publishers were slow to shift resources and effective branded content to mobile, despite social media giants recognizing the value of that space. Sternberg said Facebook makes $4 million a day off mobile advertising.

Quao and Sternberg agreed design isn’t getting enough attention by companies engaged in this field. Sternberg predicted design upgrades will be a key priority for forward-thinking businesses.

The Future of Media event ended with resounding applause, but don’t take our word for it. Check out the tweets below to see what attendees were saying about the discussion:

Future of Media Preview: Q&A with /newsroom’s Sabaa Quao

Mar 7, 2013   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

In our final Future of Media preview Q&A, we spoke to Sabaa Quao, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Journal Inc. and co-founder of /newsrooms. Quao has managed teams dedicated to the future of marketing and advertising, and he’ll join the decorated panel at the upcoming Future of Media discussion on March 14 in Toronto.

Quao boasts extensive marketing experiences, having helped launch of the Toronto Raptors and Playdium Entertainment, rebranded the CN Tower and the Directors Guild of Canada, and led special projects for Toronto International Film Festival Group, Nortel Networks, Roots, RBC Royal Bank, Levi’s, Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, The Beer Store, GlaxoSmithKline, McCain Foods, Corona, Coca-Cola, and Jack Daniel’s.

In this interview, he discussed why brands should embrace “continuous marketing,” why analyzing marketing performance is now more important than ever and the major mistakes companies make in their content marketing initiatives:

You’ve worked in marketing and advertising for years, so explain how that world has changed over the past several years and what trends are emerging in this space, specifically in digital.

Quao: Marketing and advertising has always managed to keep at pace with or slightly ahead of “culture”. That was until the pace of technology outpaced the capacity for people and agencies to keep up. So the agencies, I think, have to pick their battles and stop claiming to be able to do it all. Not only does the claim ring hollow, some won’t recover from the failure when they try. Rather than go it alone, I think the best creative and marketing teams will learn to collaborate like mad. From those collaborations, the unique combinations that arise will pleasantly surprise the clients, their audiences, and event the agencies themselves.

The other emerging reality of agencyland and marketing outputs is the hell that arises from everything digital being measurable. There’s no escaping it. The verification of marketing performance is never, ever, ever going away. Deal with it. By no means am I implying that one should give in to everything being measured — the best creative directors and marketers are going to know when to ignore the numbers at the front end and still deliver the right results at the back end.

What brands are at the forefront of branded content or content marketing? What lessons can they teach other companies?

Quao: Coke and Red Bull are the two brands that come to mind. At the Coke end, their extremely well-articulated vision of content marketing is the most coherent I’ve seen and heard. Everyone can learn from that.

At the Red Bull end, the consistency of their adrenaline content is remarkable and the word that comes to mind is actually “patience.” There’s no trendy fast decision to “Hey, let’s have a guy jump from space”. There’s patience in nurturing relationships to eventually end up dominating the Dakar rally. This all points to the long view Red Bull has around their chosen content.

When it comes to analytics and ROI, how can brands best take advantage of branded content and social media campaigns and get the best bang for their buck? What should they be looking for after specific campaigns?

Quao: Every campaign offers the opportunity to learn something new. It’s always worth diving into the quirks and patterns that emerge from a completed campaign. The best bang for the buck then comes from doubling down on new directions. This is a remarkably consistent way for our /newsrooms team to find new audiences. The next campaign invariably adds communities and audiences to the mix whom we’d never known were relevant before until we looked at the sparks that emerged from a prior campaign.

Should brands become publishers? What type of brand is best suited in becoming a CNN for their product?

Quao: No, brands should not become publishers, it’s not their core business. At the same time, brands must realize that they have no choice but to publish. A paradox.

Rather than try to become CNN or BBC World News, brand should collaborate with entities that can operationally run that race. A generation ago, did brands build their own television or film studios? No, they did not. But the collaboration with television and film producers got brands credibly into many forms of branded content.

What’s the future of content marketing? It’s a buzz word today but where do you see it five years from now, say?

Quao: Content marketing won’t go away. I don’t think it’s a buzz word. However, it’s a subset of the more important wave called “continuous marketing”. The audience is always on, the social media channels are always always open.

As a result, there needs to be considerable thought put to finding ways for the marketing machine to never turn off. Content becomes one of the steady inputs, but the data crunching and testing, the perpetual co-creation, the software-driven responses and productions, and more are all going to be around too.

Explain the most common mistake by brands diving into social media and how they can avoid making this mistake again.

Quao: The most common mistake brands can make is to fall into the same tired and meaningless social media industry clichés. If I hear another social media flak advise brands to be authentic, I’m going to gag. Instead brands should have some courage to step into the darkness. Alone. They need to feel their way around, and come out of the darkness with something new to say and do. And some of it won’t work. These aren’t “mistakes”, it’s sometimes just stuff that didn’t work. Get over it. Move on. And the brand teams don’t always need to step out with something radical that the organization can’t sustain or absorb. There’s room for gentle and reasonable innovation.

The other mistake I sometimes hear is the notion that one must hand the brand over to the consumer because that’s what the consumer wants. Really? I don’t think a brand should ever entertain that thought. Instead, think like a platform. Hand over a framework or a sandbox that the consumer can step into and collaborate with. There’s a big difference, that’s not handing over the keys to the shop.


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:
Digiday’s Josh Sternberg
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.

Digital Journal among Top 20 most promising startups in Canada, invited to C100 event in Silicon Valley

May 22, 2012   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  2 Comments

Digital Journal announced today it has been hand-picked from hundreds of companies across Canada as one of the 20 most promising startups by the C100, an organization representing accomplished Canadian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

Twice a year, the C100 holds an event called 48 Hours in the Valley designed to offer 20 of Canada’s most promising startup companies a chance to visit Silicon Valley for two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking.

Digital Journal is happy to say it has been recognized along with 19 other Canadian startups as “best-of-the-best of Canadian entrepreneurship” and the company has been invited to Silicon Valley for the exclusive 48 Hours in the Valley event in June that caters to Canada’s best-in-class companies.

“Being named in the Top 20 is a badge of honour for Digital Journal,” says Chris Hogg, CEO of Digital Journal, “especially given the fact that media companies never show up on a Top 20 list of technology companies. It really speaks to our unique business advantage in the media space, the power of our platform and our ability to execute.”

The C100 is a non-profit, member-driven organization whose focus is to support Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment. The organization is made up of a select group of people based primarily in Silicon Valley, including startups CEOs, top executives of companies such as Apple, Cisco, EA, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle, and venture investors representing more than $8 billion in capital.”

Digital Journal has an exceptional management team who has built a company and product from the ground up, and we are looking forward to playing a big role in the future of media,” said Hogg. “We are also very fortunate to be backed by some of the most talented Digital Journalists in the space and we look forward to moving ahead to the next stage with them and bringing more opportunities to content creators everywhere.”

More information on Digital Journal, the team, its product and the company’s technology, can be found here. Digital Journal also hosts an annual speaker series called Future of Media dedicated to following the evolution of journalism, news and media. Past speakers include executives from Facebook, BBC, Globe and Mail, Global News, CBC, CTV, Rogers, blogTO, Polar Mobile, National Post and more.

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