Published: May 13, 2014
Imagine this. Midtown Manhattan. An 8×10′ room. Five people. Crammed shoulder to shoulder in what they called ‘The Box.’ Working on “a bold new model for journalism.”
The model? “Reporters and writers would build individual brands around their expertise — and they’d use established publishing tools to do it. The bigger their audience, the more they’d get paid.” Then, from inside that same room came an equally disruptive idea. “Marketers could pay to use our tools to create stories of their own. In a digital world,” according to this small NY team, “content is content. It just has to be transparent and clearly labeled for all to understand.”
Fast forward five years later and countless articles about “native advertising,” and this small team in a ‘Box’ is responsible for honing in on a well-known, crucial shift in content marketing strategy: Forbes BrandVoice.
BrandVoice is a perfect example of native advertising in the works, allowing “marketers to connect directly with the Forbes audience by enabling them to create content – and participate in the conversation – on the Forbes digital publishing platform.” Imagine the visibility for your brand or company if you could get your ideas or even your blog post on Forbes.com amongst articles and thoughts by Bill Gates, Erik Kain, Marissa Mayer and Kashmir Hill.
What’s The Value?
Aside from name placement next to the expressions of top business minds and longstanding Forbes writers, the value of Forbes BrandVoice is clear. In anticipation of December 2013’s FTC hearing on native advertising, Forbes published specific statistics on its BrandVoice platform. According to a Vocus study on native advertising, ‘DVorkin states, “1,100 total BrandVoice posts generated 821,000 social shares. Those actions resulted in 565,000 social referrals to content on the Forbes site. Search referrals generated an additional 1.1 million visits.” Partners had as many as 13,500 views per post, with up to 120,000 monthly unique visitors to the content published on Forbes’ site.
Sounds like worthwhile results. Yet, at a rate card of $1 million per year plus content, BrandVoice may not be a platform suited for just any company.
A Sound Strategy
While cost for native advertising ranges depending on the publisher, from as little as $5,000 for a post on Business Insider to more than $1,000,000 for a handful of articles on Forbes or BuzzFeed, the strategy behind it (providing brand specific content that provides value to the user while well positioning the company) is sound.
Not only has BrandVoice shaken up journalism, it’s helping brands take on content marketing and distribution at a whole new level.
Brand storytelling with rich content is powerful because audiences — the people formerly known merely as consumers — pay attention to valuable content and reward brand-authors by sharing such content with friends and strangers on social platforms. When you layer that valuable branded content within a platform like BrandVoice that has high visibility and related content (in both quality and topic), the likelihood of getting your message in from of the right customer is much greater.
“Native advertising advocates say that, from a consumer’s experience, the promoted content should be so completely contextualized that it is indistinguishable from the editorial content featured in the publication.”
For many companies embracing content marketing, who are just now getting over the challenge of content creation, a new issue arises in content distribution. Channels like BrandVoice help to address a piece of the distribution puzzle. But when it comes down to it (like always), the success of native advertising hinges on creating content that will truly help customers in some way, shape or form. Why? Because a company known as the provider of such content is seen by people as a trusted ally, valued adviser and inventive entertainer.