Welcome to The Roundup, a weekly series in which Hassaan, Slope's Creative Manager, and myself, CEO & Co-Founder, discuss news from across the marketing and creative industry. This week we are talking about brand marketing and the trend of publishers building studios to take branded content in-house.
You can watch the full video below, and read through this blog post for quick links to the topics we discuss.
What is branded content, exactly?
Brands are going to publishers to make their branded content
Brian: Welcome back to-
Hassaan: Roundup, what is, episode four, five?
Brian: So who knows, welcome back. What are we talking about this week, Hassaan?
Hassaan: So, this week we're gonna talk about branded content. We're gonna talk about branded content, what it is.
Brian: Brandon content?
Hassaan: [inaudible 00:00:20] Brandon. Triple B, never lost. Branded content. Branded content. Native advertising, that whole kind of mess of world. Then we're gonna get into, you know, what's it like for publishers to be the ones creating that content on behalf of brands. Typically they've been going to agencies, now we're starting to see that people are going to publishers to make this happen. Then we're gonna have some hot takes for you on-
Brian: Kanye tweets. Or branded content.
Hassaan: Or branded content.
Brian: Whatever we feel like.
Hassaan: One of the two.
Brian: This one's fun for me too cause a lot of our customers produce branded content for different brands. So it's a little bit things we're interested in and that we have direct experience with with our customers, so let's do it.
Hassaan: Let's check it out.
Brian: So Hassaan?
Hassaan: Yeah what up.
Brian: Branded content's a little confusing.
Hassaan: It is.
Brian: Because there's native advertising and there's content marketing and there's sponsored content, there's this whole web. So walk us through, what is branded content specifically?
Hassaan: Branded content basically is any content, it's content marketing. It's content made for a brand, right? That's made to, it doesn't necessarily have to be about value props or anything like that. But, you're adding value or you're pursuing your audience's interests outside of, or tangential to, their interest in your product.
Brian: So it's not necessarily, has anything to do with the product that you're selling as a company.
Brian: It is a story behind the people that use your product, potentially, or any other story that the content wants us to focus on.
Hassaan: So like "Paul's Boots," right? This is REI's big famous documentary that they did.
Brian: That's branded content?
Hassaan: That's branded content.
Brian: Why is "Paul's Boots" exactly branded content?
Hassaan: Just in case you haven't seen "Paul's Boots," Paul died before he could walk the trail again. And so his wife sent out his boots to different hikers, and they took his boots the entire length of the trail.
Brian: Yup, they had filmmakers follow the trip, they had people record from GoPros along the way, and it went completely viral. Very powerful, moving story. Very successful piece of branded content.
Hassaan: Not only is it successful because it is celebrating the activities, but it's also celebrating getting things from and giving back to, not only the community but the space that you're trying to be active in. And so it really touched to the ethos of, you know-
Brian: And if REI had to say, "Okay, what is one piece of content that represents our brand and who we are as what is the soul of REI and not just the products we sell, it would be something like that."
Hassaan: Exactly, exactly.
Brian: Cool cool cool.
Producer Kyle: All right, you're done.
Hassaan: All right, so branded content is hot. And typically-
Brian: It's very hot right now.
Hassaan: Incredibly hot. So what you would-
Brian: Is it hotter than out-of-home?
Hassaan: Probably way hotter than out-of-home, I would imagine.
Brian: But it includes out-of-home. You can have a branded content campaign that includes out-of-home.
Hassaan: Yeah, you can.
Brian: So out-of-home is as hot as branded.
Hassaan: Branded out-of-home is as hot as branded.
Brian: Is out-of-home branded content-
Hassaan: Wait, first off, out-of-home is advertising, not content. That actually is a good difference.
Brian: What if there was an out-of-home company that partnered with New York Times Studio to produce branded content that used out-of-home elements? Is that branded content? We'll talk to the branded content board about this.
Hassaan: Maybe a branded map of like, here are all our favorite pirate bars in the city.
Brian: Okay. Are there pirate bars in-
Hassaan: Well, a subset of whatever bars are gonna be... here are our favorite martini bars. Here are our favorite rum bars-
Brian: I love that you jumped to pirate though.
Hassaan: Cause I was trying to find a very specific cultural thing.
Brian: Story, yeah-
Hassaan: That would make it than just being like... okay, touché.
Brian: That was our crossover episode.
Hassaan: Typically, big brands are going to agencies to get their branded content, to get any of their marketing advertising work. But, what we've been seeing lately, super hot, is brands going to the publishers themselves-
Hassaan: Directly, to produce the content, to produce branded content, which I guess technically is sponsored content.
Brian: Sponsored branded content, yeah, I think they overlap at a certain point.
Hassaan: New York Times I think, led the way with this, with their T Brand Studios. And then you have Washington Post, with their W Brand Studios, who are kind of just jockeying New York Times.
Brian: It's really interesting to see The New York Times lead the way with this, cause they were one of the leaders in paying for a subscription to them digitally, and leaning on digital. So think it's the natural next stop for them to transition to actually producing content and telling stories of brands. Cause they're storytellers, that's what they do.
Hassaan: They get to, basically, as opposed to finding ways to pay for the rest of their journalism, they can find stories that they want to tell, and then go find a brand who it aligns with to pay for that story. Véa, which is this cookie company for hipsters-
Brian: You love this cookie ad. Branded content campaign, sorry.
Hassaan: Branded content campaign. So what's dope is, it's called surfacing. And it's not just one, one-off article, it's a whole portal that's about microcultures popping up. So, there's a rodeo-
Brian: For cookies?
Hassaan: No, this is the thing, it has nothing to do with cookies. And The New York Times doesn't let Véa have any input on what the story is. But they're doing stories like people dressing up in Black Panther costumes, or what's another one-
Brian: As a microculture?
Hassaan: As a microculture. Or there's a rodeo in Compton. You know what I'm saying?
Brian: Yeah. And that's what inspired us to center the show around this topic, is publishers are at a unique advantage because they know their audience so well, not just in the sense of, "We know our persona," but in the sense they have that hard data to back what articles they like, what they don't, and they have more data than any brand does about these type of audiences. And they're very good at producing content that their audience engages with cause that's literally their business model.
And so it's interesting where there's been this wave of influencer marketing, where you try to find these influencers on YouTube, and Instagram, Twitter, that have these audiences that love the content that they produce. And these brands are trying to find those influencers and do these grassroots marketing campaigns. But what better influencer than the fucking New York Times, or The Washington Post, who has a bigger audience than any individual influencer that exists? And then they influence the influencers.
And so I think that data is a huge part of this, these agencies don't have the data that the publishers do, and the publishers can use that data to help inform the brands what type of content will be most successful for them.
Hassaan: What are we wrapping this up with?
Brian: We're wrapping this up with our new segment, I read Facebook comments on our Facebook ads. "Hey slop, I don't know about your dumb startup, all I know is you're hostile to contemporary performance practice. Cursed post." Number two, at Ben. "This is if your two pieces had a baby, and the company, Slope, bought the rights to it." Not sure what that means, probably should check out his work. "I didn't look into this at all, but thought you might want to look into it." Which is all of every article online.
Hassaan: Did they tag somebody?
Producer Kyle: Just every ad ever?
Brian: Every ad ever. I did not read this article but I read the headline.
Hassaan: I was reading something the other day-
Producer Kyle: Go to the poopy one.
Brian: That's not on that one.
Producer Kyle: I know.
Brian: How to go to the bathroom in a public toilet. And then there's a man with-
Producer Kyle: Hold on. Hassaan will play it right up there.
Brian: There's a man putting his hands on one wall and his legs on the other wall above the toilet.
Producer Kyle: Pooping, like four feet above the toilet.
Brian: Pooping and... there's some wild shit on Facebook.
Hassaan: So, this was a comment to one of our ads?
Producer Kyle: Yup.
Hassaan: Okay, that was it. We just finished, we wrapped it up. Subscribe, check us out. Where we are, what are we at?
Hassaan: YouTube, we're definitely on YouTube, the blog-
Brian: We're definitely on YouTube, we're on our website-
Hassaan: Make sure you check out that blog post, we got a lot of extra auxiliary information-
Brian: And, you know what? Don't watch... watch and share.
Hassaan: Watch and share. Don't just watch.
Brian: You don't have to find us entertaining, you can just find us useful.
Hassaan: You know what? We don't really care what you do to watch it, just share it, and they'll think about it.
Brian: Cause if you share it we get to keep doing this, which is what we enjoy doing.