Posts Tagged ‘brand relationships’


February 26, 2014

Lulu, the new app that allows women to anonymously rank their Facebook beaus, Luluhas quickly risen to smartphone fame. In a single year, it has attracted a user-base of well over one million with more than 200 million profile views and countless praise from esteemed media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Journal, Business Insider and NPR. With backing from acclaimed financiers such as Yuri Milner, an early investor of Facebook, Lulu is poised to reign the dating app world.

Beyond just a simple ratings scale of 1 to 10, women can give detailed, yet pointed descriptions of their exes, flings, and male friends using hashtags (e.g. #SilverFox, #CheaperThanABigMac), hence easing the dating woes (or boosting desirability) for subsequent unsuspecting women.

Co-founder and CEO Alexandra Chong explains, “[W]e get references for jobs… or renting an apt…. Why not get references from women on the guys that they may end up in bed with.” After a six-hour brunch with her girlfriends chatting up everything from careers to guys, Chong saw opportunity to tap into “girl talk” by creating a private space where they can share past experiences to “empower girls to make smarter decisions….”, marketing was geared towards sororities. One in four college women have the app, and average about 8 visits per week. This sparked a blaze that’s spread like wildfire among women in their 20s. But what’s really excited Chong has been the dynamic contributions of Lulu’s members. “… fifty-two percent of users create content. As you know in the social space that’s often unheard of. Typically the rule is 9-10%,” she tells Bloomberg TV’s Cory Johnson.

More than just piquing interest, user-generated content gives Lulu (and prince charmings) a huge advantage—credibility. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers worldwide rely on recommendations from friends and family, and 70% trust online reviews. Word-of-mouth is a tremendous driver for Lulu.

Lulu makes it easy for ladies to add their own two cents by inciting them to in with the app through Cosmopolitan-style quizzes and content. Chong tells Johnson, “For our users, it doesn’t feel like they’re doing much to give information.” She likens Lulu to a Wiki for girls. “The idea for us is to move beyond relationships and into health and to beauty and to all the things women care about. That has endless opportunities.”

Surprisingly, men are responding, well… favorably. In an article last November, The New York Times reported that Lulu had received over half a million requests from dudes who welcomed (read: braved) #feedback. One poor soul who had received a 6.5 score was a good sport, tweeting, “I can only assume this is on a scale of 1 to 5.” Um, sure.


What You Don’t Know About One-Night Stands

May 10, 2013

Content MarketingIf you’re reading this, clearly I’ve caught your attention. I’m sorry to say this isn’t an article about one-night stands.

At some point in recent years, many of us have likely clicked on what we thought would be an interesting article only to discover that it was a paid advertisement in editorial guise. Content marketing is not a new concept, but it’s becoming an increasingly popular strategy for media companies and brands to team up on new ways to drive revenue. According to Pew Research Center, sponsored content increased by 56% in 2011 and is still on the rise.

Edelman’s Chief Content Officer Steve Rubel stresses that sponsored “content is no longer optional. It’s imperative.” At BRITE ’13 Rubel explains, “It’s hard now to amass large audiences the way you used to. And that means money problems for everyone.” He notes, however, that “out of economic disruption come great opportunities.” Rubel says that display advertising has become less lucrative in recent years, and can even drive down CPM. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a fraction of the cost with the potential for greater results.


Consider Wine Enthusiast magazine. Sure it’s a media company, but it’s also a brand. By incorporating custom content, Wine Enthusiast successfully increased site traffic by 154% and boosted monthly email opt-ins by 50%. Director of Internet Marketing Erika Strum tells MarketingSherpa:

We put time into creating… content that helps people either make a buying decision or entertains them. Even if they aren’t making that purchase in the moment, we feel that they will come back to us as a… source of information.

Rubel has identified three ways that brands are partnering with media companies—syndication, integration, and co-creation. These partnerships borrow from traditional marketing models like paid media and product placement, but they now overlap with owned and earned media as an additional driver of revenue.

  • Syndication: Rubel describes this method as “advertorial reinvented.” Sometimes the sponsor scripts the content, sometimes the publisher assumes this role, and sometimes they work together to design content.
  • Integration: Similar to syndication, integration stems from product placement. But rather than placing a product within eyeline (think Wayne’s World) the brand becomes part of the narrative (think Mad Men).
  • Co-creation: The primary difference with co-creation is that the sponsor provides the funding, but the media company takes responsibility for the content. Rubel likens this to a sports stadium. Gillette bought the naming rights to the home stadium of the New England Patriots, but Kraft Sports Group, which owns and operates the venue, is responsible for the action on the field. Okay, okay, “action” may not be what non-New Englanders would call it. But you get the point.

Google Inbound Marketing Agency

While many media companies have embraced sponsored content, some are still resistant. Google for one refers to this as “commerce journalism” and explicitly states on its website:

Stick to the news–we mean it! Google News is not a marketing service…. [If] we find non-news content mixed with news content, we may exclude your entire publication from Google News.

As with anything, there are associated risks. It can offer control of content, data and measurement, and opportunities for innovation. But there is the potential for backlash. You may recall this past January The Atlantic issued an apology for posting a content piece from the Church of Scientology. Readers complained that it resembled a traditional editorial, not clearly identifying that it was a sponsored article. “We screwed up,” were the words of The Atlantic‘s media relations team.


Rubel emphasizes, though, that sponsored content isn’t going away, at least not any time soon. He advises businesses to adapt to this marketing model. “You have to put a content engine inside your company. If it’s not there already, you have to think about how to get it in there.”

What do you think?

Watch Rubel’s BRITE ’13 talk to learn more about the benefits, and the risks, of these new media-brand relationships.


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