It’s no surprise that, as the decades have passed, media has evolved. Print journalism still serves its purpose, and there’s still something very soothing about sitting down with coffee and reading a magazine or newspaper. But we’ve officially entered the age of digital and branded content.
The Meta Branded Content Project defines branded content as “any sales initiative that uses content to engage the user and is paid for by a client who participates as part of the content, helps supply the content or sponsors the content that is distributed across any platform. Native advertising articles, social videos with a sponsor tag or element, product placement, sponsored live events, sponsored collections of stories or paid video segments are examples within our definition of branded content.”
What sets branded content apart from traditional marketing concepts? According to nealschaffer.com, the answer is simple: stories. More specifically, it is stories that engage our emotions. Where traditional marketing strategies focus on direct forms of advertising such as product placement, branded content “often sells an idea or a feeling rather than the product itself and, depending on several factors, can sometimes be more effective than the traditional advertising schemes in building brand loyalty.”
Advertising is everywhere. It’s on our Facebook feeds; it’s on billboards while we’re stuck in traffic on the freeway, and it happens during our favorite podcasts. Branded content seems to be trendy, but it’s a trend that works, according to medium.com. Why? It gets more attention and creates brand recognition. Consumers enjoy it because they believe the content is more focused and not a sales pitch. It creates trust between the brand and the consumer, which is important when it comes to being involved in our local communities.
Traditionally media companies get revenue from both national and local ad companies from their marketing and advertising budgets. Today, we’re seeing funding come from corporate foundations, with most of that support coming from branded content: “It’s a powerful way to combine what publishers and local newsrooms do best: storytelling and helping businesses grow.”
During my time here at the Dallas Voice, I’ve had the pleasure of establishing relationships with many organizations and businesses around the Metroplex. This helped me realize the impact of branded content on local media and the value, relevancy and consistency it brings to our community. This type of content goes beyond the traditional “marketing” and informs the audience about who you are as a company.
Dallas Voice is the premier media source for LGBTQ+ Texans, and we have come a long way since our beginning in 1984. Our audience has grown immensely, and each week we have the opportunity to reach new readers here in DFW and beyond while also gaining their trust. We want to unlock deeper customer engagement online and continue to connect with our audience. As Adweek.com puts it, “branded content connects consumers with content and products they’re bound to love on the platforms where they spend time.”
Looking to the future, I’m excited to see where our next endeavors will take us. We want to continue to make an impact on the community while broadening our horizons in the branded content field, and we will continue to be the voice of our community — that same community that has trusted us to tell their stories and provide them content for nearly 40 years.
Leo Cusimano is owner and publisher of Dallas Voice.