Mastercard just launched a series of in-house content studios called Storylabs. Staffed by former journalists, the studios will churn out blog posts, social content, podcasts, and videos in an effort to build and engage multiple audiences — consumers, businesses, government stakeholders, and merchants. This investment in content is designed to help Mastercard build a loyal audience of readers who will return to the brand’s website and social channels and drive outcomes throughout the customer journey.
We're seeing these in-house studios start to pop up more frequently — just today, Digiday wrote about United Airlines in-house push on social video — but they’ve also been building over time, with bigger and more robust investment.
Big brands across multiple verticals are not just throwing a blogger or intern at these initiatives — and we’ve seen that the payoff can be big.
Marriott has spent almost a decade building its branded content studio, which now spans five continents. They’ve produced content like the “Marriott Traveler” magazine, the “Navigator Live” TV show, and Emmy-winning short films like “Two Bellmen.” To lead these efforts, Marriott brought in production talent from Disney, CBS, and Variety. This content helps Marriott reach millennial travelers and tell a unified story that spans almost two dozen different brands. They’ve even begun turning the program into a profit center, licensing their content to Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix as a way to supplement the revenue their content generates via bookings.
Pepsi runs Creators League, a 4,000-square-foot content studio in Manhattan where marketers and artists create 400 pieces of digital content a year. Having a full-time team of 10-15 people has dramatically increased Pepsi’s content output and decreased the time from ideation to execution.
Recently, Walmart acquired content studio Spatialand to create new VR experiences for retail shoppers online and offline.
With brands like Mastercard building their own studios, marketers are starting to realize the importance of high-quality, consistent content — not just a regular tweet schedule.
One way to think about this is a mindset shift is happening across major brands as they transition from treating content the same way they treat campaign-driven traditional and digital media.
Brands recognize that you can’t just buy a content marketing operation like you can a Super Bowl ad — an always-on, audience-building effort has to start small, gradually build, and then be sustained week in and week out. Marriott actually started with one person writing a blog post every week until they scaled into a full-blown media studio with magazines and Emmy-winning short films.
We expect to see more brands make this transition at an accelerating rate.
There are hundreds of “rules of thumb” for content marketing out there but many actually conflict and contradict each other. Which stats match up and which ones don’t? And how do the results affect your day-to-day strategies as a content marketer? Here's what we found.
Credit: Huffington Post
A new study from Northwestern confirmed two interesting findings for B2B enterprise marketers:
While most enterprise digital marketers have been trying to get these points across for years, it’s actually rare that we get confirmation from the ivory tower of digital content's role in influencing the B2B path to purchase.
Not surprisingly, this consumerization of marketing tactics correlates with the overall consumerization of how enterprise products themselves are both built and sold:
Last week, an interview with an Intel marketing exec highlighted their approach to using interesting consumer content tactics to sell its B2B tech products. As Alyson Griffin, VP of global marketing and communications for Intel’s B2B strategy, said, “We are doing a content marketing strategy and placing content in the world where the target lives.”
Consumerization of marketing has both a high bar to entry but also presents new opportunities to individually engage buyers and influencers up and down the chain of command with content and digital tools.
There shouldn't an an ounce of doubt as to whether enterprise content marketers need to create and engage across two dimensions — top/middle/bottom of the funnel, and executives/middle manager influencer/end-users.
Digiday reported that publishers are starting to focus more on engagement-focused metrics like time-spent and visit frequency, moving away from traditional campaign metrics like page views. This is further evidence of the trend we’ve written about previously that publications are increasingly monetizing by two methods: subscriptions and branded content. To get subscriptions, after all, they have to think like a content marketer and drive engagement. SF Gate, for example, recently shifted its focus from unique visitors to readers that visit at least 10X per month. And The New York Times created an internal dashboard that shows which articles generate the most online subscriptions. Meanwhile, The Financial Times and The Economist have been betting on branded content engagement since 2015, when they started selling ads based on time-spent instead of just impressions.
That takes care of the subscription part, but how are publishers getting more branded content deals?
Publishers are accelerating their technology capabilities and diversifying content to boost engagement and attract more brand partners. These developments are cutting-edge, and further evidence of how brands are using in-house studios in addition to agencies to expand their creative offerings:
Bloomberg.com created a ‘90s-style video game about malls on their site as a form of interactive storytelling. The Financial Times did the same with Uber, building an interactive “news game” that takes viewers through life as an Uber driver in the gig economy. (Did you choose the Prius or the Van?) The New York Times created a whole new team dedicated to building data and tech solutions for brands. The Washington Post created its own publishing software called Arc, which aims to be the go-to content management system for news organizations — and brand publishers.
Fundamentally, this is good news for brands. Publishers are working harder than ever to create interactive digital experiences and diversified offerings advertisers can’t get anywhere else — and are leveraging new engagement metrics to prove success and their unique value. It’s going to be fascinating watching how publishers accelerate these shifts in their product offerings over the next few quarters to continue to win business and grow revenue.
Curated and published by Adam Orshan, Alexis Krantz, and Matt Levin in New York City.