15 Examples of Brand Publishers and Digital Content Hubs

What are the best exam­ples of brands doing brand­ed pub­lish­ing well? And what can we learn from their efforts?

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 2 comments

Brand­ed pub­lish­ing is a oft-debat­ed top­ic in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try. Many brands have ded­i­cat­ed pub­lish­er sites, dig­i­tal mag­a­zi­nes, or blogs, but ROIs and attri­bu­tion remain com­plex to mea­sure. What are the best exam­ples of brands doing brand­ed pub­lish­ing well? And what can we learn from their efforts?


As dig­i­tal mar­keters, we know con­tent mar­ket­ing is impor­tant, and as a exten­sion of this, that brands are increas­ing­ly becom­ing pub­lish­ers in their own right. Coca Cola’s ‘Jour­ney‘ is one of the fre­quent­ly cit­ed exam­ples of a brand whose pub­lish­ing forms the back­bone of their con­tent mar­ket­ing.

And the soft drinks man­u­fac­tur­er is far from alone when it comes to brand­ed pub­lish­ing. In recent years, brands in indus­tries rang­ing from tech, autos, and trav­el have all upped their con­tent mar­ket­ing game, either with dig­i­tal mag­a­zi­nes, dig­i­tal con­tent hubs (ded­i­cat­ed pub­lish­er web­sites), or sim­ply a qual­i­ty blog — and often it’s a com­bi­na­tion of many or all of the­se. We’ll explore exam­ples of the­se in greater detail below.

The branded publishing debate

Brand pub­lish­ing as a top­ic, is not with­out it’s own share of debate. Mark Hig­gin­son, writ­ing on Spark­sheet, wrote on how the aver­age num­ber of shares for a piece of con­tent on Jour­ney received just a spat­ter­ing of shares, lim­it­ed com­ments, and that “two-thirds of posts received no com­ments at all”. This he sug­gest­ed, was an indi­ca­tion that Coca Cola’s brand­ed pub­lish­ing was falling short of it’s goals:

One of the biggest brands in the world gen­er­ates next to no inter­ac­tion through its pri­ma­ry win­dow to the world.”

–Mark Hig­gin­son

Hig­gin­son also revis­it­ed the con­cept ear­lier this year, where he expand­ed on the con­cept incor­po­rat­ing back­link per­for­mance as an addi­tion­al met­ric, point­ing out that a great deal of brand­ed con­tent also per­forms poor­ly in this regard.

Cleary, brand­ed con­tent is a top­ic that has drawn con­sid­er­able con­tro­ver­sy, with oth­ers argu­ing that social share-counts should not be only met­ric on which brand­ed con­tent effec­tive­ness should be judged. After all, on the flip side, would a large num­ber of social shares nec­es­sar­i­ly mean that the con­tent is gen­er­at­ing mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions and engage­ment? Per­haps not — for if the pur­pose for a piece of con­tent is to serve as a touch­point in a consumer’s pur­chase jour­ney, a social share is just one pos­si­ble inter­ac­tion in what we know are often much more com­plex buy­ing cycles.

The thing with content marketing…

The issue does high­light what is undoubt­ed­ly the biggest prob­lem for con­tent mar­keters. How do you mea­sure the effec­tive­ness of your brand­ed con­tent? Share-counts and back­links may be the most wide­ly stat­ed met­rics, but like­ly due to the fact that they are the eas­i­est to quan­ti­fy, and not because they are the most indica­tive of effec­tive­ness.

In oth­er words, just because con­tent per­forms less well than expect­ed in terms of shares and links, this doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean the con­tent isn’t per­form­ing. And in the absence of quan­tifi­able met­rics, impact on bot­tom line rev­enues remains a dif­fi­cult area to assess and prop­er­ly attrib­ute (short of a/b test­ing the entire­ty of a brand’s con­tent mar­ket­ing, we prob­a­bly need to accept that there will always be a degree of debate about whether of not [x] brand is doing con­tent mar­ket­ing, or brand­ed pub­lish­ing well — and even this would only give a chan­nel-wide mea­sure of effi­ca­cy).

Ulti­mate­ly, the hard truth for many brands at the moment is prob­a­bly that they aren’t able to mea­sur­ably quan­ti­fy the effec­tive­ness of their pub­lish­ing and con­tent mar­ket­ing. Not invest­ing in con­tent how­ev­er, remains too great a risk. So how are brands approach­ing their brand­ed con­tent?

15 Digital Content Hubs from Brand Publishers

Despite the uncer­tain­ties, there are many brands who are invest­ing in brand­ed pub­lish­ing. Here are fif­teen of the most notable pub­lish­ing efforts from top brands. In each case, we have also includ­ed total and aver­age share counts over the past twelve months (as of May 9th 2016) from Buz­zSumo.

1. Red Bull

Red Bull fea­ture con­sis­tent­ly in any list of top con­tent-mar­ket­ing or brand pub­lish­ers, and for good rea­son. Few brands  cap­ture an audi­ence so well with regards to their brand­ed pub­lish­ing, and focus­ing on emerg­ing nich­es such as adven­ture sports and gam­ing has been high­ly suc­cess­ful for the brand.

redbull

If there’s one thing that defines the brand’s dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing — it’s con­vic­tion. The Red Bull web­site _is_ the pub­li­ca­tion (no craft­ed artic­u­la­tions about caf­feinat­ed fizzy drinks here), mean­ing their domain is a whole­heart­ed com­mit­ment to dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing. Per­haps more so than any oth­er brand, Red Bull have proved the effec­tive­ness of brand­ed pub­lish­ing in build­ing val­ue and engage­ment. The vol­ume at which they pub­lish, and the respec­tive aver­age share count show healthy fig­ures too.

Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 14,342 Total Shares: 13,712,691 Aver­age Shares: 956

2. General Mills – Tablespoon

Gen­er­al Mill’s Table­spoon is an media rich web­site for recipes and food ideas. Design and nav­i­ga­tion is clean and sim­ple, and free of Gen­er­al Mills brand­ing. Tablespoon’s pri­or­i­ties seem to be first­ly to act as pub­lish­er with con­sid­er­able free­dom, and to provide val­ue for con­sumers, over than any obvi­ous mar­ket­ing agen­da.

tablespoon
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 612 Total Shares: 1,736,993 Aver­age Shares: 2,838

3. Intel – iQ

Intel’s iQ is a tech cul­ture mag­a­zine cov­er­ing fash­ion, sports, gam­ing, health and lifestyle, with the inten­tion of “[bring­ing us] deep­er into the lives of peo­ple and the tech­nolo­gies they are using to change the world.” Although they may not pub­lish as often, their con­tent cov­ers excit­ing and pro­gres­sive break­throughs in tech, such as solar pow­ered cars, and tends to be wide­ly con­sumed.

Intel iQ allows the tech­nol­o­gy brand to post excit­ing con­tent around fash­ion such as this incred­i­ble but­ter­fly dress.
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 212 Total Shares: 1,567,933 Aver­age Shares: 7,396

4. Coca Cola – Journey

Unlike Red Bull, Coca Cola’s pub­lish­ing on jour­ney feels more heav­i­ly brand­ed (and per­haps this could be a bar­ri­er to some for con­sum­ing the con­tent freely). Cer­tain things do come across in their mes­sag­ing, the brands glob­al val­ues are reflect­ed in sto­ries from all over the world. Jour­ney does give them a place to doc­u­ment their con­sis­tent stream of amaz­ing con­tent moments.

coca cola journey
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 491 Total Shares: 626,832 Aver­age Shares: 1,277

5. Target – A Bullseye View

Target’s pub­lish­ing oper­a­tion, A Bullseye View, sep­a­rates itself from the typ­i­cal cor­po­rate blog on the strength of it’s edi­to­ri­al. They do a great job of blend­ing their cor­po­rate news agen­da with more con­sum­able infor­ma­tion. For exam­ple, a post announc­ing the open­ing of a Chobani Cafe is round­ed off with a entic­ing recipes for Chobani yogurts.

target bullseye
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 335 Total Shares: 288,270 Aver­age Shares: 861

6. Adobe – CMO.com

CMO.com is Adobe’s dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tion, specif­i­cal­ly cater­ing for CMOs and senior dig­i­tal mar­keters. As report­ed on velocitypartners.com, accord­ing to edi­tor in chief Tim Moran, “CMO.com fills a need for today’s mar­keters, in that it helps them try to under­stand the mar­ket­ing and busi­ness issues that have arisen in our new dig­i­tal world. Our read­ers […] are hun­gry for good [and] inde­pen­dent infor­ma­tion”.

cmo
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 4,518 Total Shares: 244,782 Aver­age Shares: 54

7. NerdWallet

Nerd­Wal­let are the lead­ing finance com­par­ison web­site in the US. A huge­ly com­pet­i­tive niche, con­tent forms a key part of what dis­tin­guish­es the brand from their com­peti­tors. As a study by Linkdex dis­cov­ered, they oper­ate an pro­lific pub­lish­ing sched­ule, writ­ten by a rich net­work of authors, that serves niche search queries as well as the high vol­ume head terms.

nerdwallet
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 2,736 Total Shares: 217,981 Aver­age Shares: 80

8. American Express – Open Forum

Amer­i­can Express’ Open Forum is a great resource for small busi­ness­es. Like Target’s A Bullseye View, it’s the qual­i­ty of the edi­to­ri­al that dis­tin­guish­es their pub­lish­ing efforts. Many of the posts are authored by gen­uine small busi­ness­es own­ers, impart­ing some of the lessons they’ve learnt, mak­ing it a great resource for like-mind­ed busi­ness­peo­ple.

amex-open
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 956 Total Shares: 128,062 Aver­age Shares: 134

9. P&G – Everyday

P&G every­day is a great exam­ple of a brand­ed con­tent / lifestyle mag­a­zine from a lead­ing FMCG brand. The site has a mem­ber­ship scheme, and offer coupons for their prod­ucts, as well as con­tent that is cur­rent, such as their “Thank You, Mom” cam­paign for the Rio Olympics.

pg-everyday
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 468 Total Shares: 97,844 Aver­age Shares: 209

10. Moz – YouMoz

YouMoz is “an SEO and online mar­ket­ing blog cre­at­ed by the read­ers of Moz”. The Moz com­mu­ni­ty is known for being one of the strongest and most engaged in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, and YouMoz has been a fan­tas­tic plat­form for the brand enabling their users to share con­tent and add val­ue. Aver­age share count shows that the con­tent is well shared.

youmoz
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 87 Total Shares: 55,332 Aver­age Shares: 636

11. HPMatter

HP’s dig­i­tal mag­a­zine, Mat­ter, has a fresh and respon­sive look and design, which sup­ports their excel­lent edi­to­ri­al. Mat­ter often runs con­tent around a par­tic­u­lar the­me — the cur­rent explores data, pri­va­cy, and oth­er tech­no­log­i­cal issues for chil­dren and younger gen­er­a­tions.

hp-matter
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 298 Total Shares: 44,777 Aver­age Shares: 150

12. Shopify

Like Nerd­wal­let, Shopi­fy run an exten­sive blog­ging sched­ule, with a clear focus on pub­lish­ing insight­ful “How to…” and “Why…” arti­cles for their audi­ence. Often pub­lish­ing sev­er­al times a day, and undoubt­ed­ly with a rich author net­work, Shopi­fy are build­ing a for­mi­da­ble resource for dig­i­tal mar­keters and small busi­ness own­ers.

shopify
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 107 Total Shares: 35,491 Aver­age Shares: 332

13. momentology

This one may be a bit cheeky / meta — but momen­tol­ogy itself is a brand­ed con­tent site, spon­sored by Linkdex. Edi­to­ri­al­ly, we oper­ate com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent­ly, and our sole goal is to cre­ate the best con­tent for con­sumer-cen­tric dig­i­tal mar­keters on the web.

momentology
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 267 Total Shares: 25,592 Aver­age Shares: 96

14. IBMVoices

IBM Voic­es is a bit dif­fer­ent in that it aggre­gates con­tent that has been shared by a curat­ed list of Twit­ter influ­encers. Voic­es func­tions effec­tive­ly as a con­tent hub cov­er­ing some of the best con­tent around ana­lyt­ics, big data, and oth­er pro­gres­sive tech­nol­o­gy top­ics from all over the web.

ibm-voices
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 1,673 Total Shares: 24,614 Aver­age Shares: 15

15. GETxchnologist

Txch­nol­o­gy is GE’s dig­i­tal mag­a­zine cov­er­ing emerg­ing tech, sci­ence, and trends. Whilst they may not pub­lish that often, what they do release is in-depth, and of very high edi­to­ri­al qual­i­ty. Their mis­sion is to “offer an opti­mistic, but not utopi­an, take on the future and humanity’s abil­i­ty to tack­le the great chal­lenges of our era through indus­try, tech­nol­o­gy and inge­nu­ity.”

txchnologist
Arti­cles ana­lyzed: 49 Total Shares: 2,258 Aver­age Shares: 46

Branded publishing

The above exam­ples show that one of the things that makes suc­cess­ful brand­ed pub­lish­ing is a com­mit­ment to high-qual­i­ty edi­to­ri­al. Some, such as Intel, HP Mat­ter, and Txch­nol­o­gist do so at the expense of scale, pub­lish­ing bet­ter but less often.

Ambi­tious brands may wish for their con­tent to become an every­day part of their customer’s lives (just as Coca Cola defined in their 2020 Con­tent strat­e­gy) but com­pet­ing for dai­ly eye­balls with ded­i­cat­ed pub­lish­ers is no easy task.

The fact that Yahoo have recent­ly report­ed flat earn­ings (there are cur­rent ongo­ing talks about a pos­si­ble acqui­si­tion), and with the Guardian hav­ing also announced cut­backs to their edi­to­ri­al oper­a­tions in the face of “incred­i­bly chal­leng­ing” con­di­tions, it’s no won­der that there is so much con­tro­ver­sy about the effec­tive­ness of brand­ed pub­lish­ing.

One pos­si­ble course of action will be for brands to focus on their par­tic­u­lar niche, and add as much val­ue there for a speci­fic audi­ence. Red Bull are the prime exam­ple of this, not try­ing to be all things to all peo­ple, but specif­i­cal­ly to focus on emerg­ing nich­es. Nerd­Wal­let and Shopi­fy have also done well pub­lish­ing for a speci­fic audi­ence.

The val­ue of brand­ed pub­lish­ing may not be some­thing that can be eas­i­ly quan­ti­fied, and win­ning con­sumer engage­ment remains a high­ly chal­leng­ing area. As the above exam­ples illus­trate how­ev­er, there are plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for brands to take on that chal­lenge.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex’s data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

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2 Comments on "15 Examples of Brand Publishers and Digital Content Hubs"

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dergal
Member
1 year 3 months ago
As some­one whose paint of choice is mag­no­lia I am not a qual­i­fied inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tor, but I was a fan of the TheChromologist.com ( http://thechromologist.com/ ). It is chal­leng­ing in a brand that has lim­it­ed resources and as a mar­keter there is always some­thing more direct­ly tac­ti­cal you feel they should be doing to push them to invest in some­thing a lit­tle out­side of the box and often as a direct ROI can’t be linked (that is improv­ing now with the rise of DMPs and improved track­ing) I have seen far too many projects with a short life span which… Read more »
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