Tribune Publishing, Lifestyle Frisco, The Seattle Times and Post and Courier create experiments designed to drive revenue


The Branded Content Project beta group testing is now in full swing! We’re featuring four more unique plans by our project participants.

We asked 22 local media organizations to meet a huge challenge: develop an innovative and strategic way to grow branded content revenue. All 22 media teams are meeting the challenge with ambitious plans that will grow new audiences and new advertisers as part of the Branded Content Project, a partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium and funded by the Facebook Journalism Project.

Discover the solutions and experiments underway at Tribune Publishing, Lifestyle Frisco, The Seattle Times and The Post and Courier.

Round 2:

Let’s take a look at the next testing groups.

The Seattle Times‘ plan is to test research to inform a more strategic, and more comprehensive set of content marketing solutions that bridge both their O&O products and their agency services. The research will include reviewing a client’s Google Analytics and audience research data to see if/how it correlates with the seattletimes.com audience. It will also include using CrowdTangle and Google Trends for research on what’s trending in social and search content for their category. Finally, the Seattle team will review organic and paid keyword data to understand what search terms convert for the client and should be incorporated into the content to improve organic search results.

They will conduct this research on two beta clients and execute a campaign using this data, benchmarking performance before and after. This testing will be done at no charge to the client, absorbing content production and media cost through grant funding from the Branded Content Project. Through these learnings, the team plans to update the go-to-market strategy and workflow, and use case studies to sell bigger campaigns with multiple on- and off-site content solutions and tactics.

“We wanted to test a concept on research to take our branded content services to the next level, but realized we first needed to ensure our foundation was strong,” said Amber Aldrich, senior director of advertising for The Seattle Times. “We ended up evaluating everything we’ve built in the last five years, from our terminology and guidelines to our ad serving technology, labeling, and social posting policies. After spending several weeks building out our foundation and level-setting knowledge, we now have some strong momentum and energy behind our initiative and are well-poised for testing and growth.”

Tribune Publishing‘s initiative is focused on the development of new branded content initiatives, which take traditional special sections to a heightened level of consumer engagement and business goals. Specifically, their “Get Healthy Chicago” program will be the first in the round-up of branded initiatives.

The Tribune Publishing team wants to generate awareness of this program and encourage a healthy living movement within the community. This program is produced by Studio 1847, the Chicago Tribune Advertising/Marketing team, and the initiative will be B2B focused with the goal of showing revenue ROI.

Ashley Marten, sales operations manager for Studio 1847 and Tribune Publishing, explained that the Tribune team is thrilled about their initial progress.

“We’re super excited to see progress being made on our initiative,” she said. “Many of the landing pages for the content experiences have been created and mocks are available to share with clients. We closed our first sponsor for “Get Healthy Chicago,” which we hope will launch in the next few days. We are in the beginning stages of scripting and storyboarding our animated video explaining the experiences, which will then be used in our social media posts promoting the program.”

The first phase of Lifestyle Frisco‘s testing plan is to host a package giveaway promotion to increase its email list utilizing funds from a grant through Facebook. For two weeks in mid-April, they will be encouraging new email subscribers to enter this giveaway.

The giveaway will include:

  • a 3-day weekend in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, in a six-bedroom luxury cabin
  • Tumbleweed Texstyles T-shirts, hats, and other items to outfit the family
  • a Yeti cooler stocked with Topo Chico water
  • a dozen or so Detour Donuts for the road trip there from Frisco, Texas
  • a Lincoln Navigator for the winning family to use for the weekend

“This initiative will be the first time we’ve hosted a giveaway promotion that’s focused on new email acquisition,” said Wendi McGowan-Ellis, CEO & co-founder at Lifestyle Frisco. “We’re using the Facebook grant funds to put together a ‘3-Day Family Weekend’ package with sponsors like Lincoln, Yeti, Topo Chico, Glamcations, and other local Frisco, Texas, lifestyle brands to pack the car and make the trip out of town a luxury experience for the winning family.

We believe that increasing our email list through this promotion will not only increase our brand recognition locally, but by choosing these premium brand partners, we’ll be assisting with their promotion to our audience as well. We’re all about the win-win.”

The Post and Courier team will develop some videos that allow them to showcase the additional value of the After Effects training and show those to potential clients. The team will also be able to bundle some of these video services with sponsored content packages and digital agency solutions.

Matt Crum, director, cinematographer, and photographer for the Post and Courier, said he is looking forward to the training and the opportunities.

“Through motion graphics training in After Effects, we can offer our clients a whole new world of possibilities within our existing video project styles as well as completely new avenues such as explainer videos and high-end logo animations,” he said. “Our team is excited to implement the new workflow.”

Did you miss Round 1? Read the roundup:

Mundo Hispanico, Swift, TAPinto, Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Entravision begin their quests for new revenue

STAY TUNED FOR PHASE THREE NEXT WEEK WITH NEW PUBLISHERS AND NEW PLANS!