Last month, News UK launched a vertical video studio which they believe will improve mobile advertising across the web and not just on its own sites.
News UK’s head of branded content, Joanna Carrigan, a nominee for the First Women Awards and judge for The Drum Content Awards, said: "V-studio has been incorporated into our branded content offering in three ways - through vertical video production, through reproducing existing assets, and distribution through our V-formats.
"It allows us to create mobile first video strategies that are designed to be distributed both in-feed and across our platforms. The format is also live across Unruly, our video distribution network, affording huge scale and reach. We're producing content as well as adverts, and seeing great results for our clients."
Filming and distributing in vertical is a key step for News UK, in creating a seamless user experience based on The Sun's huge mobile audience. 92% of its audience view content on their mobile devices, and research shows that 58% of users find flipping their phone to watch video frustrating, so News UK are using vertical to serve the needs of their consumers as well as their clients.
What do you think has been the most innovative changes you have seen from content this year?
For me it's the advances in distribution both on and off platform that we are now able to employ. There's a lot of great technology that helps us to deliver on platform in really interesting and innovative ways. At News UK, we’re using tech such as Polar and ShareThrough and off platform trusted environments such as Apple News, which has been a massive development this year. It’s all around using these in the right way, at the right time and just really thinking about the distribution element which is as important as the creation of brilliant content.
You can create incredible content but if nobody sees it then it doesn't matter. It’s about finding that quality audience and delivering content where it can be seen.
What do you think are the key trends are right now within digital branded content?
Looking at new technologies that allow you to become expert storytellers, but in a way that goes beyond the written word or standard video. Things like 360 and VR have been around for a few years now, but I think that in the next year they are really going to come into their own, especially within branded content.
The barriers before with these – expense for example and complexities when it came to stitching post production – are alleviating. Adtech is advancing and becoming more accessible, meaning these are becoming more commonplace and advanced. We’ll see this really expanding in the next year.
Who in the industry do you believe have effectively executed their digital branded content strategies?
In terms of brand, I love what Unilever are doing. Their campaign working with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) was excellent. It was incredibly reactive, using data to inform creativity every step of the way which for me is absolutely key.
They were publishing real time social media trend updates through digital outdoor media with really impactful messaging around mental health. They used that data to really focus their creative messaging but was also incredibly clever distribution.
For me, there were three things that were very important about that campaign; the use of data for the campaign messaging, the use of data for delivery and using it overall to inform their campaign. That was key and it was a brilliant campaign.
How does NewsUK make that link between commercial and editorial to help grow their digital branded content?
Knowledge sharing is key between our commercial and editorial teams. We analyse our editorial trends, use data from our audience behaviour, and tap into our journalistic instinct to build branded content strategies that work for our clients and our platforms . I think that as premium publishers we do that really well, and the information we can gather from our editorial tools and journalists who are best in class, that really sets us apart.
We're very lucky to have access to that information in real time, and we're very much aligned with our SEO teams and audience development. Although there is no cross over between commercial and editorial in terms of the teams that work on those areas, we are very much informed by editorial insight. Data and insight lives and breathes throughout our branded content strategies, and we ensure that we draw on it every step of the way.
As a judge for The Drum Content Awards 2017, what would you expect to see from the entries this year?
For me it's about thinking creatively but in the non traditional way: using data and tech to inform creativity, so that everything has a real basis in the analytics and insights. I would like to see entries that are thinking very cleverly about data and tech and for me there is also a key line in strategy – there should be a thread from the top to the bottom of a campaign that ties up nicely and is unbreakable.
I always like to see something that's a little bit different. I like campaigns that are a bit quirky so anything that is thinking outside the box and is unexpected – maybe an unusual distribution technique or a way of looking at something that hasn’t been done before.
How important are these awards to the industry?
For me The Drum Content Awards, for this industry, are the pinnacle of the UK awards. They are incredibly well esteemed and from my point of view it's really exciting to join the panel of experienced judges, learn and talk with them and read through all the inspiring entries and see what everyone is up to."
I think they're incredibly important and something to strive for. It's always a massive win for brand or agency to have one of these and The Drum name is so synonymous with quality that to have their content award it can be a game changer for an individual or brand.
Carrigan is a judge for The Drum Content Awards 2017 which are now in their third year and continuing to seek out and reward the top talent in content marketing.
Entries for the awards close on Friday 28 July. Enter now and showcase your content creation skills to your own company, clients and peers as well as industry experts.
Sponsors for the awards include: BCMA, The Drum Network, The Drum RAR and TINT.