New[s] This Week! | NYT’s Branded Content Studio Taking on Ad Agencies, Publishers Alter Digital Strategy, Digital Marketing Plans For Startups, & Why Everyone Should Learn Digital Marketing

Guess who’s back? We are, with a new batch of articles that you may have missed this week. From major content firms pivoting to take over ad agency work to a thought experiment about the importance of everyone learning digital marketing. We promise that this selection of news from this week will not disappoint.

So let’s dig right in! First up is a story from The Drum about The New York Times’ T Studio taking on the entrenched ad agencies:

What began as an exercise in ‘native’ integration of branded digital storytelling into a publisher’s website, done so seamlessly that the consumer would find it as valuable as the editorial material which it sat alongside, is evolving at the New York Times into something far more ambitious. …

At three-and-a-half years old, T Brand is “absolutely evolving to function more like a creative agency”, Tomich says. He talks confidently of “going up against” specialist advertising agencies for bespoke client projects and starting “to go head-to-head with” ad companies in offering content strategies and distribution plans. “I don’t flinch when I say that we are the best at what we do.”

Content studios like T Brand are lean and “can produce things a lot cheaper than a traditional creative agency could”, he claims. “From a cost perspective there’s definitively a competitive advantage there.”

This is interesting because most news organizations have been wracking their brain trying to find new methods of advertising to get out of the red. Publishing news has been a notoriously expensive business to be in for the past ten years or so, and the quality of the product has regularly taken a dive–with the criticism to go along with it.

As The Drum points out, “Native Advertising” was the original application of T Studio. This was supposed to be a form of sponsored content marketing that looked close enough like regular content that most people would read it without noticing that it was actually promoting a product, service, or company. The fact that it has not only been successful but spawned growth across different forms of content and media production (for promotional purposes or not) is a testament to the strength of content marketing in general.

Our next story comes from Fox Business, where Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg highlights the analysis and adaptation cycle of two major publishing company’s digital efforts:

When Condé Nast launched its video hub, the Scene, in July 2014, it envisioned a sophisticated website that would showcase content from such titles as Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, with media partners that included ABC News.

But the site offered so much choice that users found it more overwhelming than entertaining, and traffic eventually sank. Condé Nast didn’t shut down the Scene; instead, it reoriented the platform as a vehicle to distribute videos on Facebook aimed at an 18- to 34-year-old audience, with the tagline “videos for women who get it.” …

Time Inc., like Condé Nast, created a centralized video destination called Daily Cut several years ago, but it never caught fire and is now in the process of being closed.

The company is experimenting with different models to distribute its biggest brands on streaming-media platforms. The People/Entertainment Weekly Network — a free streaming service that the company says has more than 1.6 million downloads as an app — is advertiser-supported. Ian Orefice, Time Inc.’s head of programming, said a free service was the best strategy in a crowded entertainment media space.

One of the things that smaller clients are so fearful of is failure. “What if this strategy doesn’t work? How do we make this better?” Explaining that understanding what is and isn’t working is a regular part of digital marketing, much less business in general, can seem difficult. Thankfully Mega-Publishers like Condé Nast and Time, Inc. were able to provide such massive examples of failure, evaluation, and adaptation to a strategy. This is helpful for decades-old companies and even new start-ups.

While we here at The Contemporary work with a number of established companies, we were once a startup just like all of our clients. Because of that is holds a near and dear place in our hearts. To keep in mind how important Digital Marketing Plans are to startups here’s a bit from Matei Gavril, CEO of PrMediaOnline, published on Forbes:

Launching a startup is an exciting time in your life. Your days are full of action, and you love every last minute of it.

As you turn your attention to digital marketing, your excitement could soon turn into disappointment. Here’s why: You may struggle to implement a strategy that allows you to ramp up quickly, reach peak performance and generate positive results.

As challenging as this appears – especially with so many other tasks on your plate – you don’t have to let this roadblock slow you down. Here are four steps to create a digital marketing strategy that will bring you closer to your goals. …

1. Know your industry.

2. Do one thing well before moving on.

3. Map it out.

4. Get help before you need it.

Digital marketing is the backbone of any startup’s marketing efforts. Why? Because it is so easy to manage yourself. When you can’t afford to work with an agency like ours, even at low, low starter package rates, sometimes you go it alone.

That’s why this guidance is helpful. When people don’t necessarily know anything about digital marketing, putting the right knowledge into action will generally lead you to success.

Finally, one of the interesting nuggets of information from this week was an article from YourStory, where Deepak Kanakaraju tossed out the idea of everyone learning about digital marketing, even if you don’t want to be a digital marketer:

Are you thinking “Should I learn digital marketing?”

Do you think that digital marketing is just another profession or area of study?

Sometimes it is natural to feel that digital marketing is one of the many professions in the world. Just like data science, programming, finance, etc., digital marketing may look like just another profession that you can choose from a wide array of career options.

But the reality is different.

You cannot ignore digital marketing. …

Digital marketing skills have become as necessary as knowing the English language to communicate. People who have started learning digital marketing have realised that digital marketing skills can be applied to any type of job.

Digital marketing activities should never be constrained to the digital marketing team alone. Digital marketing runs through the entire organisation.

Marketing involves understanding what the customer wants and digital marketing helps with that. Marketing and communication is inbuilt in the product creation process. If someone makes a product that no one understands how to use, the product will fail.

Marketing is also the responsibility of the support team because if the support team does a good job, they get appreciated.  This increases brand affinity, word of mouth referrals, and ultimately more customers for the business.

We love this idea because Deepak is absolutely right. Digital Marketing is not about making sales or how to design something. Digital Marketing is about connecting people through communication. This is transcendent of marketing and is applicable across many different jobs, disciplines, or industries. There’s a similar effort underway to teach people how to code.

So that’s it!

If you have any questions about this week’s news, feel free to comment below or contact us. Have a great weekend!

Author: Rob Sloan

Rob Sloan is an experienced marketer and content strategist with more than a decade of digital marketing, content strategy, and video production experience under his belt. He founded The Contemporary to work with small businesses that needed help breaking into the online marketing world.

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