Expanding the Owned Media Approach
With more channels, devices, customer touch points and competition, brands are feeling the pressure. Today more than ever before, consumers have access to an endless pool of information and choice as to which brands they engage with and offer their loyalty to. For some brands, traditional TV ads or press hits are simply no longer sufficient. As a means of strengthening their voices and connections with audiences, more brands are turning toward owned content. From blogs, to microsites, to traditional print magazines, brands are taking an owned media approach to not only natively advertise, but also to offer inherent entertainment and informational value to their customers.
Here are a few examples of brands who have taken on self-publishing and have successfully expanded their brand voice and story:
Airbnb: Airbnb, a startup that came of age amidst mobile innovation, threw audiences for a loop when they took their branded content offline (and off smartphones) and into a traditional print magazine, Pineapple. Pineapple explores the stories of Airbnb’s community of travelers. For a company that offers a sound digital reservation experience, going offline at first seemed backwards. The travel industry is moving increasingly toward mobile, so why take a step back onto the printed page? But Airbnb’s owned content approach was the next logical step for the brand to become truly omnipresent, both on and offline, allowing them to cut through the digital travel chatter. Pineapple allows Airbnb’s enthusiastic community to engage the old-fashioned way, through the touching and turning of pages. We’re all so accustomed to scrolling through digital content that taking a step back and away from our devices is, often, a more memorable experience. This approach makes Airbnb not only a brand, but also a lifestyle.
Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola sought to enhance their brand perception as fun, fresh and light-hearted through a series of microsites. In 2014, the beverage brand launched 61 (and counting) microsites to experiment with gamification. Each microsite corresponds to a different version of “ahh,” or in some site cases “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh” – depending on the amount of H’s entered into the URL, a different gaming microsite pops up. The mobile-optimized series allows the legacy brand to stay interesting and top of mind, especially among young consumers, without coming across as though they are always selling.
GE: GE is an owned media pioneer. Through the expansion of their content efforts, GE has also expanded their brand identity. Leveraging platforms including Tumblr and Pinterest has allowed GE’s band of content marketers to brand the company as forward-thinking idea generators and explorers. Their owned content efforts interactively look at science and technology, a mechanism that has better engaged more diverse demographics and audiences. Within their Tumblr page, you will find curations that highlight innovations across everything from clean energy to transportation. GE has always prided itself as a creator of efficient, problem-solving products, and now, with owned media, they are also the creators of constant conversation and ideas.
Here’s something to keep in mind in 2015: If brands do not become their own publishers with owned media, they are giving away the chance to form valuable customer relationships.