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The $1 Million Branded Content Project

The $1 Million Branded Content Project

This post was originally published on LinkedIn by Nancy Lane, President of Local Media Association & Local Media Foundation. View her original post here.

I’m excited to share some details about The Branded Content Project, funded by the Facebook Journalism Project, and co-managed by the Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium.

This $1 million-dollar project was created to vet, test and execute business models related to branded content. While this space isn’t necessarily new, we are seeing media companies reinvent the model. They are driving significant revenue and profit margins and this has our attention. At the same time, advertisers love having their brands affiliated with this kind of content.

The first phase involves an alpha group of partners that are having real success in this space. We’ll work with this group to learn what is driving their success and we’ll provide significant resources to help them get to the next level.

By September, we’ll be able to share the results of the alpha group tests and invite others to apply for our beta group. At least 20 companies will be chosen to participate in round two.

Fran Wills, CEO of LMC, and I announced the seven alpha partners on stage at the Borrell LOAC Conference on March 12. They are: ABC O&O, The Dallas Morning News, Graham Media Group, McClatchy, Shaw Media Group, The Texas Tribune and WRAL. This is a great mix of broadcasters, newspapers and a digital news site. We intend to learn a lot from each other.

Our goal is to report on our progress every step of the way. All of the partners have agreed to share with the industry.

We’ll start with research before deciding what to test. This is often the missing ingredient and we don’t want to leave out the voice of the customer. To that end, we’ll be hosting focus groups with advertisers (current branded content advertisers and prospects) at each of the seven sites. I’m thrilled to report that we just contracted with Magid to conduct this important work.

We’ll share the focus group learnings with the entire local media industry. Expect a comprehensive report from our project manager Julia Campbell by the end of May. This should help everyone fine tune their branded content strategy. Speaking of Julia, please know that she serves as a resource for everyone in the industry. During her eight years at Gray Television, she worked on branded content strategies and created the brand MomsEveryday. Anyone looking for guidance on branded content initiatives is encouraged to reach out to Julia at

Once the results of the focus groups are analyzed, we’ll start testing. This will go on for three months. Throughout the process, there will be in-person and virtual meetings with the seven partners so that they can share what is working and what is not, and get input from the larger group. Julia will provide onsite resources to each property and help with sales training.

I’m personally excited by the work going on with cause-marketing. A number of our partners are having success in this space. I’m eager to see what they will test and what we can learn from them.

We also chose 14 companies, from the 38 that applied for the program, to participate in a pre-beta program. We’ll meet with this group on a regular basis to learn what’s working for them and to set them up for the beta group. This will allow us to learn from 21 companies over the next six months – that is pretty powerful.

At LMA, we are intensely focused on helping local media companies discover, vet, test and execute on business models that will sustain local news. We certainly think that branded content is a model with tremendous upside potential. I want to personally thank the Facebook Journalism Project for funding this important work. They have been fantastic partners on this project and we appreciate their support. We are excited to work with our valued partner, the Local Media Consortium, on the execution of this project. And, we invite everyone in the industry to join our efforts. Our goal is to share our learnings far and wide. Let us know if you want to be involved.

View the original post on LinkedIn.

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