The Local Media Consortium and the Local Media Association revealed the 22 local media companies that were chosen to take part in the Branded Content Project, an initiative being funded by a $1 million investment from the Facebook Journalism Project.
The two organizations began the project with an initial alpha test group in March, and then accepted applications starting in September and running through Oct. 21.
The LMC and LMA said in a release that the 22 members of the beta group—“each of which demonstrate a commitment to furthering best practices in branded content initiatives”—will receive grant money to test and develop sustainable branded content offerings and revenue streams.
The beta-test will kick off in January, with plans to share initial findings with fellow alpha- and beta-test participants sometime next spring. Projects will be tested through next fall.
The two local media organizations defined branded content as “any sales initiative that uses content to engage the user and is paid for by a client who participates as part of the content, helps supply the content or sponsors the content that is distributed across any platform.”
The 22 local media companies chosen to participate were:
- Cox Media Group
- The Denver Post
- Entravision Communications
- GateHouse Media
- Growing Community Media
- Lifestyle Frisco
- Mundo Hispanico
- Narcity Media
- Newsday Media Group
- The Philadelphia Inquirer ()
- Portland Press Herald—Masthead Maine Media Network
- The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)
- The Seattle Times
- Skyline (SCNG Media)
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Swift Communications
- Tribune Publishing
- Village Media
- WBOC (Draper Media)
Testing will focus on challenges including: educating sales teams and advertisers; proving return on investment for clients; improving the process and workload for branded content teams; testing scalability in other markets; improving usability and user interfaces; implementing improved analytics and reporting; training for sales and news; social video production; in-market group sales events for clients; and purchasing technology for improved production.
McClatchy general manager, creative lab Eric Brandner said in a release, “Our participation in the Branded Content Project’s alpha group has been especially rewarding, as each of the participants brought a unique perspective and challenges to the table in an earnest effort to collaborate and grow together. The best part is seeing the wins: Our team has already incorporated several Branded Content Project insights into our work, and it’s been great to see our project colleagues launch revenue-driving initiatives, too. I know the beta group will benefit from these same opportunities.”
Tribune Publishing vice president Robin Gruen added, “Our team is honored to participate in the Branded Content Project because it offers us the opportunity to learn from other wonderful publishers in the space who have seen success, too. We all bring unique and varied experience to the table, which makes for interesting, insightful and applicable outcomes. We know this initiative will prove valuable to our clients, as well.”