Today, more and more companies are seeing the value in content over advertising. Content marketing is less disruptive, more engaging, and helps build relationships with consumers. While many companies utilize blogs, video, and newsletters to build their content marketing programs, some are taking it a step further: developing independent editorial properties.
As brands create separate media houses to build out a wide range of content, consumers’ perception of what’s advertising and what’s entertainment is starting to shift. While Red Bull is the most popular example of a brand-turned-publisher, many others are following suit and beginning to see the value in building full-fledged editorial websites. When a company chooses to “unbrand” their content, it becomes easier for them to build meaningful relationships with their audiences and, ultimately, create a greater sense of brand loyalty. By divorcing their content from the company and publishing it on a site devoid of overt advertising, brands are able to focus on producing impactful stories rather than forcing a sale.
Let’s explore 3 companies that are flexing creative muscle to build extensive brand publishing houses.
Launched in January, Furthermore is Equinox’s attempt to conquer the fitness industry. Rather than simply attaching a blog to their company’s website, Equinox hopes to create a major impact in the industry with a large-scale brand media house. President of Equinox, Sarah Robb O’Hagan explains the gym’s move into fitness content as a natural progression for the brand. “We are filling a huge void in the marketplace for marketers and advertisers who want to connect with an upscale, fitness-focused demographic in a high-end wellness environment.”
Equinox wants Furthermore to be a one-stop shop for high-income fitness lovers—and with such a large selection of content, it seems possible they’ll realize this goal. Equinox understands the key to a successful brand media house is to diversify their content. Furthermore offers visitors videos and articles that cover everything from the science behind exercise and healthy recipes to workout regimes and fitness gear reviews. They also curate celebrity fitness playlists readers can easily access via Spotify and jam out to during their own workouts.
Bravo: The Feast
Bravo is trying to prove it’s more than just a destination for reality television by adding a series of “lifestyle platforms” to its brand. The Feast, Bravo’s first of many editorial sites, launched in January and focuses on the latest from the food and drink industry. Bravo promises to call upon the expertise of influencers to ensure content maintains a high level of authenticity. The next masthead to launch from Bravo will be The Jet, a travel site that will include articles from travel influencers like Jen Pinkston and Rachel Jones. The network channel plans on releasing more lifestyle sites over the course of the year, including ones on home design and relationships.
What’s interesting about Bravo’s dive into the brand publishing depths is that it’s not your traditional company. As a TV channel that reaches more than half of America’s televisions, why would they need to develop any editorial projects? According to Bravo and Oxygen Digital Media’s executive vice president, Lisa Hsia, these content sites are a way for the company to engage with their audience beyond the somewhat limited parameters of their programming. Hsia says, “With the success of The Daily Dish, we learned that Bravo’s audience has a craving for life outside the frame of their favorite Bravo shows. With the launch of these new lifestyle destinations on BravoTV.com, we aim to appeal to a broader audience of consumers, while also satisfying our viewers with an even deeper, digital experience.” So far, it appears Bravo’s decision to branch out into brand publishing has been rewarding. AdWeek.com says Bravo saw a 61% increase across digital platforms in 2015 thanks to the addition of relevant and interesting content.
Barneys: The Window
The fashion industry was one of the first to embrace content marketing. Many companies like Net-a-Porter and Gucci are harnessing the power of engaging content to build connections with their audiences and humanize their brands. The luxury department store, Barneys, has decided to push its content endeavours further by developing an editorial site and app called The Window. An all-encompassing fashion platform for a high-end audience, The Window features Q&As with designers like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as well as behind-the-scenes looks at the fashion from awards events and runway shows.
Barneys has seen a lot of success with its new content-driven platform. Matthew Woolsey, VP for digital, told Digiday, “More than half the people using the app are spending 10 minutes inside the app. The customer is no longer making the distinction between the fashion and the storytelling element.” When asked about the relationship Barneys has with content, Woolsey said, “Our brand is at heart a storytelling brand. Stories matter to our shoppers and the people interested in fashion and luxury.” The Window’s success proves that when you put a major emphasis on creating a content program that focuses on telling interesting stories that resonate with your audience, you’ll build more meaningful relationships with your consumers.
The Bottom Line
Brand publishing is the next wave of content marketing. By making a big push for independent, editorially-driven websites, brands are creating the new digital destinations for audiences seeking interesting and entertaining content.