Metro’s Colin Kennedy on branded content, making the jump from editorial to commercial and the problem with metrics
Metro’s Colin Kennedy has described his recent move from assistant editor at Metro to content director (commercial) as “evolution rather than revolution” following the launch of the title’s in-house content agency Story.
Move: Metro's Colin Kennedy
Speaking to The Drum, Kennedy said he was only the third member of editorial staff at Metro to make the full-time move to the commercial side, but said he expected that number to rise along with the popularity of branded content.
“It’s an evolution rather than a revolution for me personally; as an assistant editor I worked on special editorial projects rather than on the day-to-day of the paper, and half my job was helping the commercial teams with the increasing number of deals and campaigns that wanted content created.
“It’s not a radical change, but I think only three people have gone from editorial to commercial since Metro started, so not many people have done it. I think there will be more people coming across. There is an increasing number of people who have the word ‘content’ in their job titles in the advertising industry – I hope as many of them as possible are pure content people and have worked in editorial.”
Metro launched its in-house agency, led by creative director Sophie Robinson, in April. Since then, it has carried out work for the Carphone Warehouse, Tropicana, Heineken and a partnership with Sky Movies launched last week.
The core Story team has nine members, although extra resources from other departments within Metro, including editorial, are called upon depending on the brief.
“We don’t think it’s the Metro way to build a separate unit and hire 25 new people,” Kennedy continued. “It’s about how we can more optimally organise the talent that we do have to be more efficient and then how we market that. We’re very busy, and hopefully myself coming across will be a bit of an acceleration.”
Marketers are devoting higher and higher budget spend on content marketing projects, which has prompted a number of publishers to launch in-house content services, such as Guardian Labs and The Drum Works.
However, according to Kennedy, brands must be realistic about what they expect from content marketing campaigns, and the industry should establish metrics to allow marketers to measure success more accurately.
“I think that’s a challenge for the industry,” he said. “I pick up tensions within client companies and the media industry as a whole. You could be talking to some clients and they say this is a really important thing for their brand and they’re trying to move the way that people think about it in the long term. But then they book a two-week campaign and expect to move the needle on a certain KPI, and it doesn’t really work like that.
“I don’t think the industry has the metrics, and the expectation about what a two-week campaign can bring needs to be managed a bit more closely.
“People think it’s a significant investment for them – and it may be – but they need to have realistic expectations about what two weeks can do. If they’re around for three or six months I think it’s absolutely right to say they need evidence a campaign is doing what they asked for it to do.”
Before he joined Metro in 2012, Kennedy served as editor-in-chief of magazine brands Empire and FHM during a 15-year tenure at Emap (now Bauer).
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