A guide to branded content that offers a newer, hipper version of “publish or perish.”
Digital media continues to expand and transform, and the field of content marketing—in which advertisers create branded, sponsored works, including magazine and newspaper articles, websites, and even TV shows—is no exception. Cramer organizes her debut in a way that will enable readers to focus on the sections that most apply to them: “The Marketer’s Mission,” “A New Road for Journalists,” or “Publishers and the Custom Content Boom.” However, she encourages everyone to read all three parts, because understanding the roles and concerns of one’s counterparts is the key to effective collaboration, she says. Along the way, she offers several concrete examples of successful branded content, such as a New York Times article on women’s prisons sponsored by Netflix and its hit series Orange Is the New Black. Likewise, she presents an in-depth case study involving Del Monte Foods, green beans, and Thanksgiving, following the project from conception and execution to its results. There’s a fair amount of jargon here—understandably so, though it’s easy to roll one’s eyes at terms such as “client on-ramping.” The way Cramer introduces quotes from experts uses a long-winded format that often lists names, titles, positions, companies, and quote sources, and this becomes obtrusive to the point that some readers may want to skip right over them, much like much-maligned banner advertisements. Overall, the author suggests, the most entrenched resistance to branded content comes from journalists, who tend to view it as unethical or otherwise beneath them. However, Cramer, and others, points out that all media companies operate under editorial parameters. At the end of the second section, she alliteratively renders the bottom line: “Hemming and hawing (with a heaping side of hand-wringing) over the ethics of these tactics won’t do anyone any good if there is no newsroom left to worry about compromising.” Resistance may be futile as so-called “digital natives” set trends and increase their purchasing power, but this good-natured book makes the pill a tad more palatable. After all, Cramer cautions publishers, “If you’re still resisting custom content, you’re already years behind your customers.”
An essential marketing manual for both the uninitiated and the experienced.