Beer Giant AB-InBev Partners With Pitchfork To Create Content Site

What Happened
In its latest content marketing move, beer giant AB-InBev is teaming up popular indie music site Pitchfork to launch October, a new online publication that will focus on draft beers. The company will work with the Conde Nast-owned publisher to create beer-related content such as reviews small-batch brews, essays on topics like beer trading, a directory of beers and, eventually, a regular lineup of events and podcasts. Aiming to broaden awareness and interest in beer-brewing culture, the site won’t carry any AB-InBev branding and the Pitchfork team will have full editorial control.

What Brands Need To Do
This is an interesting development in branded content marketing. Previously, for example, when Diageo partnered with Thrillist Media Group’s CoLab to launch cocktail recipe site Supercall, the site has to devote a set percentage of its content to Diageo brands such as Tanqueray gin. As brands continue to leverage branded niche content to effectively reach their target audiences, they will need to expand their work with content creators to ensure the authenticity and credibility of the content they produce.


Source: Digiday

Pinterest Launches Showcase To Help Brands Present Their Best Sides

What Happened
Pinterest has introduced a new feature called Showcase to help brands on its platform leave a strong first impression on customers visiting their profile pages. Rolling out to business accounts, this new feature enables brand managers to choose up to five customizable Pinterest boards and Buyable Pins in the US to feature as a rotating carousel on top of their profile pages.

Why Brands Should Care
A new report from our sibling Mediabrands agency Magna found that social and search captured the bulk of digital dollar growth in 2016, and social media is expected to rise to the top of advertising spending in market share by 2017. Pinterest stands to benefit from this ad dollar boom, as it has long enjoyed its reputation among social networks as a “Sales Conversion Powerhouse.”

This new feature should offer brands a way to curate their best content collections and present them in a prominent manner to attract the attention of potential customers and hopefully lead to conversion. As social platforms like Pinterest continue to build out their ad products and add brand-friendly features, brands advertisers need to learn to leverage these tools to reach their desired audiences .


Source: Marketing Land

Pinterest Ramps Up Content Advertising Products To Court Brands

What Happened
Pinterest is launching a “creative ecosystem” called Pin Collective to connect brand marketers with top content creators on its platform. Brands of all sizes and budgets can leverage this new tool to produce content that is optimized for Pinterest’s unique format and user behavior.

In addition, the social scrapbooking site is reportedly testing a new “Explore” media channel for publishers and brands to reach users with videos and multimedia posts. Similar to the way  publishers currently distribute their content and ads on Snapchat’s Discover channels (which is about to change), this new media channel on Pinterest will allow brands to put ads against publisher content.

What Brands Should Do
Last week, Pinterest announced that it has reached 150 million monthly active users, up 50% from last year thanks partly to a substantial increase in male signups. While its user base still lags behind the biggest social platforms, its unique visual aesthetic has proven popular with certain consumer segments such as fashion lovers and home decor enthusiasts. The two content marketing initiatives should give brands new channels to reach their desired audiences, and brands with an overlap between their customers and Pinterest users should give them a try.


Source: Pinterest Business blog & AdAge
Header image is a promotional image courtesy of Pinterest Business blog

Reddit To Allow Brands To Sponsor User Posts

What Happened
Reddit is taking a big leap in ramping up its ad business by launching a new ad product called Promoted User Posts. Set to launch on August 4, this ad product will allow brand marketers to sponsor user-generated posts on Reddit. For example, if someone posted something interesting or humorous about a brand’s products and got some traction on Reddit, the brand can ask Reddit to contact the user for permission to sponsor that post so as to propel its reach. The sponsored posts will be featured in different subreddits – topic-based forums on Reddit – so that brands can target specific segments of users.

What Brands Need To Do
Reddit currently has over 240 million monthly unique visitors, but brands have historically found the site difficult to market on due to its lack of viable ad products and a notoriously anti-ads user base. Still, some brands such as Toyota and Ford have found moderate success in their content marketing efforts on Reddit by playing to user interests and sensibilities. This new ad product should make it easier for brands to tap into viral content gaining momentum on Reddit and reach a significant part of the global online audience.


Source: AdAge

Forbes Wants To Help Brands Connect With Industry Experts For Content

What Happened
Similar to so-called “influencer marketing,” where brands turn to social media stars to promote their products and services, Forbes is now offering brands a chance to connect with industry experts in certain areas to help brands get the word out for their content. Working with social media analytics firm Traackr, Forbes will connect brand advertisers participating in its BrandVoice Premium program to “a network of journalists, academics and bloggers who wield influence in key subject areas” to promote their content to a more targeted audience via their own social network. The expert influencers won’t be paid to promote the branded content, but Forbes can ask these influencers to create content on the brand’s behalf that would be posted on

What Brands Need To Do
While Forbes’ BrandVoice initiative comes with a rather hefty threshold of at least $100k ad spending per month for a minimum of six months, it nevertheless illustrates the growing importance of leveraging social influencers to get branded content in front of the right audience. At a time when 14% of internet users are now using ad-blockers to avoid online ads, it is especially important for brands to use branded content to spread the word.

For more information on why brands should leverage partnerships with social influencers and content creators to reach new audiences, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016.


Sources: Wall Street Journal

Facebook’s Live-Streaming Feature Now Available To All iOS Users In U.S.

What Happened
Nearly two months after Facebook started rolling out its live-streaming feature Live Video to non-celebrity users, the social network now declares that the feature is available to all U.S. users with iPhones. Android users and international markets will receive the self-broadcasting tool in coming weeks. Facebook introduced the feature in August last year to certified celebrity Pages exclusively at first, five months after live-streaming app Meerkat broke out at the SXSW festival last March.

What Brands Need To Do
Compared to Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook may be late in its entry. But its vast user base (1.59 billion and growing, per Facebook’s latest quarterly report) should give this new feature a competitive edge over the two aforementioned early movers in mobile live streaming. The option to save a live broadcast to a timeline should come in handy for brands seeking to create video content straight from their live events. Overall, this new feature will provide brands with a new channel to connect with fans in real time, as well as opportunities for sponsoring social influencers or broadcasting branded events.


Source: Wired

Header image courtesy of Facebook Newsroom

Nissan Creates Branded In-Car Game To Appeal To Millennials

What Happened
Nissan is trying a novel way to engage with Millennial consumers. Taking inspiration from popular millennial games such as Truth or Dare and Cards Against Humanity, the Japanese auto maker has created a branded card game called “Altimatums” designed for passengers to play on the road, with car-friendly challenges such as “drive to the nearest convenience store” or “perform a dashboard drum solo.” As part of its marketing push for the new 2016 Altima model, Nissan has been distributing the decks to fans via social media. There is also a PDF version available for fans to print and play.

What Brands Need To Do
This new card game from Nissan points to an interesting new direction for developing branded content. Studies have shown that Millennial consumers value experiences over material goods, and this branded card game can provide passengers with a fun experience during car rides. Leveraging social channels to distribute the game is a great way to reach potential car buyers and spread the branded content. Brands interested in content marketing should take cues from this and start developing fun and engaging content products that consumers will be happy to pay attention to.


Source: Digiday


Next Gen Advertising: Could Consumer Excitement Make All the Difference?

Written by Lena Phalen, Research Analyst at Lab’s Research Department


Right Now, We Have a Problem.
These days, consumers are constantly inundated with ads. Trillions of ads are served to US consumers every year. In fact, the average person encounters approximately 1,200 ads per day, according to MAGNA GLOBAL’s estimates. It’s no wonder consumers consider marketing to be out of control. Our standard methods aren’t working – with this amount of volume, people must tune advertising out in order to simply function! This frustration has also resulted in the rise of ad blocking software, which PageFair/Adobe reports about 198 million people worldwide use (43 million in the US alone, according to their 2015 data), compounding issues of ad effectiveness further. The advertising community desperately needs to find better ways of engaging consumers that go beyond the archetypical and ineffective banner ad.

Although technology has amplified issues of ad inundation, it has simultaneously given us tools to better address how to make ad experiences more targeted and enjoyable for consumers. The key is using the tools that we have to improve the effectiveness of ads that are created. For one, we now have the ability to target consumers when they might be in different emotional states, depending on what they are doing or watching – or even to analyze their emotional response to content and creative on a large scale using facial recognition software, such as IPG Media Lab’s AttenTV product. These are powerful, underutilized tools – especially considering that all of the research the IPG Lab has done on the topic suggests that when consumers are in a heightened state of excitement, ads work much harder.

One Solution: Capitalizing on Exciting Content
One way to reach consumers when they are in a happier, more excited state is by pairing ads with content that is proven to do just that. When an earlier Lab study inadvertently revealed that there were significant differences in the perceptions of comparable news sites, we developed a new study to delve further into its effects. From this following research, we found that certain news sites that were more trusted and improved consumers’ emotional well-being in comparison to similar sites resulted in a substantial halo effect for ads on the site. All of the Lab’s studies are scientifically curated to control for demographic and other outside differences, so we were looking at the same ads on each different news site and comparing accordingly. As consumers reported greater amounts of positive feelings, including overall happiness, intrigue, and energy while reading content from the site, as compared to the other similar sites, the ads that were served next to the content also worked harder. They resulted in significantly higher brand metrics, including a 3% higher brand favorability and an impressive 11% higher purchase intent. Even with basic messaging, these ads were more effective.

We also have another study in the works partnering with ZEFR, a company with the ability to identify and target context in video, to investigate the effects of more diverse emotions. Early results are encouraging, indicating that emotional congruency (i.e. matching the tone of ad creatives with content placement) delivers similar benefits to ad effectiveness and improves ad experiences.

Another Solution: Capitalizing on Exciting Situations
We can also easily predict when excitement will rise based on a given situation occurring in different locations, and gear advertising to capitalize on the event. For instance, the Super Bowl. Naturally, consumers will have strong opinions about who they want to win, so we wondered what would happen if a brand aligned with the rooting interest of an audience. The Lab spent some time researching ads that rooted for the two participating teams across the country, and found that these “rooting ads” work far better than standard ads, since nearly everyone was rooting for an outcome and felt passionately. This passion and excitement translated to favorable brand opinions – enough to also significantly move consumers’ purchase intent by 6% compared to standard ads. We even found that the more passion for a team/outcome, the more likely people are to want to purchase the brand.


Another opportunity to utilize exciting occasions has emerged from the mobile app/gaming realm. It is intuitive that during moments of achievement (i.e. reaching a goal, winning something, etc.), consumers are more excited (40% more, according to our research with Kiip), than at other points in the game or app. But, an innovative way of capitalizing on this emotion is to pair advertising with rewards given to consumers after they unlock an achievement, which Kiip has already built a successful ad model around. These rewards have a purpose – consumers can actually use them, and they congratulate consumers when happiness, attention, and engagement levels are at their highest. They were so effective, we noticed a 133% higher purchase intent across the board.


So What Can We Do?
Well, for one: target situations and content that we already know will illicit passion, energy, and excitement from consumers. Whether or not the content is generating the excitement or the current outside situation, it seems that its effects on advertising are quite positive. The same ads will work harder in these situations than if positioned in less stimulating environments.

The data on what kinds of content makes consumers happier and more engaged is out there, whether it be certain news channels, games, or videos. However, we would have to look through the research to find better ad placements based on these emotional criteria. Sometimes finding exciting content is intuitive (with gaming, apps, etc.), but it is harder to predict exactly which news site or news content will raise happiness and engagement levels when compared to others. Just the same, not every brand or brand message needs be happy to emotionally engage audiences. Exciting content and exciting situations are about forming a connection with your audience and eliciting a response—cutting through the ad clutter to distinguish your brand.

This calls for a better database of information that connects research to practice. There is also certainly a great deal of work left to do on this topic, with many more situations left to investigate. The Lab is already looking into some of them, such as video advertising based on emotion. We have the technology: we now need to capitalize on it. It is technology like this, which helps make ads relatable and excitable to consumers, that is the future of next-gen advertising.


Branded Online Courses: The Next Big Thing In Content Marketing?

What Happened
A Minneapolis-based startup The Big Know has scored 3 million in funding to help brands create sponsored online courses that consumers would willingly pay attention to. Launched late last year, the startup has worked with AARP and UnitedHealthcare to create courses on topics such as wellbeing and stress management. All existing courses are free and non-credit, running from two to four weeks, and the company claims that about 40,000 people have signed up for courses since launch.

What Brands Need To Do
As today’s consumers increasingly start to shun away from ads with the help of ad-blockers and ad-free subscription services, branded content offers real values stands out as a great tool for brands to capture consumer attention. Branded online courses can be a very effective form of content marketing, due to “the high degree of user engagement and the associated glow that attaches to the sponsoring brand,” as The Big Know’s CEO puts it. But with the rising concerns surrounding the deceptive practices in native advertising, brands will need to proceed with caution and care if they wish to reach consumers with branded online courses.


Source: Marketing Land

Header image courtesy of The Big Know’s website


Uber To Allow Third-Party Apps To Entertain Riders

What Happened
Uber doesn’t want you to get bored during your ride, so it has tweaked its API to allow developers to plug their apps in to serve riders with games, news, and other entertainment content during the ride. Aptly named “Trip Experiences,” this new feature will essentially allow a third-party app, with the user’s permission, to serve up notifications and content via Uber’s app with notifications customized according to the lengths of the rides.

What Brands Need To Do
This marks Uber’s latest move in its continued quest to integrate third-party apps and services into its app via partnerships and deep-linking. Last year, for example, the ride-hailing app partnered with StubHub and Spotify to expand the functionality of its app. For brands, “Trip Experiences” offers a great window to get their content in front of a captive audience in the backseats of Uber cars. However, users will need to give permission before third-party apps can connect to Uber and access their trip details, so brands should be mindful about the content they serve to make sure it adds true value to Uber passengers.


Source: The Verge