Time Inc. has signed its first client for Watercooler Live, its new native ad product that pours advertiser content, social commentary and Time Inc. editorial content into microsites and ad units.
Time Inc. has been making a big push into native ads as it prepares to spin off from Time Warner next year. Watercooler Live extends the Amplify native ad unit it introduced last year to give brands broader distribution for their own content. For Land Rover, Time Inc. populated a microsite and Amplify units with the automaker’s own material, Time Inc. editorial and custom content from its content-marketing arm. Kimberly Kyaw, digital marketing and social media manager for Land Rover, said the platform was appealing because it gave the marketer a way to publish content that would resonate with potential customers “as opposed to just, ‘Here’s the latest Land Rover product.’”
Custom content has been challenged by a number of issues; brands need the resources and know-how to create interesting content and be able to distribute it widely enough to justify its cost (in this case, a six-figure commitment from Land Rover).
Time Inc. is addressing those issues by making the process turnkey and supplementing brands’ content-creation efforts as needed. For scale, the Amplify units can run beyond Time Inc. properties to the publisher’s partner sites. Land Rover owns most of the content outright or for two years, so its exposure doesn’t end with the Time Inc. campaign.
Still, brands ideally need 15 to 20 pieces of content of their own to start with as well as a decent social following to help populate the microsite. In this case, Land Rover leaned on other publishers like Outside and Men’s Journal to create videos about adventure-seekers to supplement its own material. The process also can get bogged down by the myriad agencies involved. (Land Rover had four.)
“Watercooler Live isn’t for every client,” said Adam Solomon, Time Inc.’s vp, digital ad products and revenue operations. “It’s for those with active social channels and consumers providing a lot of positive feedback.” So far, Time Inc. has gotten three more clients on board to launch Watercooler Live ads by Q1 2014.