As a brand whose bread and butter is content, Conde Nast is in a unique position to weigh in on branded content. The media company can lean on a long heritage in the content business and may theoretically have a leg up on content novices, but, like many brands, it must still find a way to promote itself in the bold new digital era.
Even a content brand must create branded content. That’s the case with Conde Nast, whose vice president of corporate partnerships, Josh Stinchcomb, was on the “Storytelling: The Digital Experience” panel during New York’s Advertising Week.
Stinchcomb shared his content expertise and tips for other brands looking to get in on the content game.
Tip 1: Don’t Focus So Much On Data That You Lose Sight Of Everything Else
“Data without creativity is just noise,” Stinchcomb said. “There is a risk of being too focused on what the data tells us what we think someone wants that we lose serendipity. We have to caution against overreliance on data in terms of content creation.”
In other words, brands should still go with their guts if there’s a particular piece of content they think will resonate even if the data doesn’t necessarily tell them it’s the right thing to do.
At the same time, Stinchcomb said Conde Nast looks at what segments of audiences are consuming what content on its sites and takes that insight to create new, unexpected content.
“Data is interesting in terms of connecting the right stories with the right people,” Stinchcomb added. “A lot of data we use to think of how to connect back to segments of audiences.”
Tip 2: Utilize Visual Content
Stinchcomb cited the rise of the image-based web thanks to ubiquitous cameras as another great source of content.
“Images are powerful,” he said. “We’re seeing that become a bigger and bigger factor in the stories we tell. A heritage can be built on photography for a lot of brands that aren’t used to telling stories.”
Tip 3: Consumers Are Consuming Content, Not Collaborating
For his part, Stinchcomb said the notion of collaboration is “overstated.” He conceded there is an opportunity for personalization, but notes content marketing remains mostly a giver/recipient relationship.
“Most people are consumers, not creators,” he added.
Tip 4: Proceed With Caution And Preserve Brand Integrity
“There are some advantages coming from being a legacy business in this space,” Stinchcomb said. “There’s cash flow, content infrastructure…there’s a lot we have going for us, but it’s how we mix [content and digital that] we take seriously…”
As a result, Stinchcomb said his brand may have a reputation for being risk- or change-averse, but Conde Nast doesn’t want to be cavalier.
“We’re cautious about preserving the integrity of our brands,” Stinchcomb said. “There’s a huge opportunity for brands like us to leverage assets that want to do business with Conde Nast and finding the right ways to have these things coexist.”
Tip 5: Start With The Editorial
He cited a longform native piece on Wired for the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” as a good piece of content marketing.
“You have to start with the editorial. What’s going to interest consumers? What’s something you can own?” he asked. “That’s the approach we’re taking.”
He added that if a brand is starting its content marketing strategy with a product in mind, it should probably just make an ad.
Tip 6: Think Digital Video
In addition, Stinchcomb noted Conde Nast is “making huge bet on digital video” and launched 11 channels about 18 months ago.
“It’s a huge undertaking in developing scripted, reality-based, how-to videos, but what we’re seeing — especially among Millennials – is that’s the preferred way.”
What’s your take on this media company’s perspective on content marketing? Is it useful for your own efforts?