How Refinery29 Creates Value Through Playful Branded Content
As part of our Ask the Experts series, we’ve been learning from the world’s leaders in content marketing and sharing their advice. In this interview with Anna Plaks, VP of Brand Experiences at Refinery29, we chat about the importance of compelling visual content and the rise of third party distribution platforms.
The following interview contains excerpts from The Epic Guide To Content Marketing – over 50 pages of free advice from the experts at The New York Times, Huffington Post, Mashable, Forbes and many more.
Pressboard: What’s your role, your background and what first attracted you to the branded content space?
Anna: I’m the VP of Brand Experiences at Refinery29. Over the past 5 years, I’ve built the department to be a true intersection of editorial and commercial entities that work together in a seamless and creative way. I have always loved advertising, and now that we’re in a new age of brands being storytellers and not just commercial entities, there is a very exciting path to a new era of what “advertising” will become and an evolution of traditional marketing strategies. In another few years, the traditional marketing textbooks I studied in college and graduate school will be completely overhauled.
Signs Of Love – a year-long branded content partnership between Refinery29 and Revlon
Pressboard: What’s the main reason brands come to Refinery29 to partner on branded content, instead of creating and distributing the content themselves?
Anna: Brands are most attracted to Refinery29’s unique voice, distinct point of view, and deep insights and connection to our millennial-minded female audience. Since launching the company 10 years ago, we’ve fine-tuned our perspective, developing an understanding and expertise on how to be simultaneously authentic, authoritative, playful and information-driven. This is an editorial art form that brands want to take advantage of, and by staying true to our voice while telling stories through the Refinery29 lens, we’ve developed a trusting relationship with our audience. We’re constantly innovating and experimenting with the latest platforms in order to reach our audience across all aspects of their lives while seeing an exciting movement in branded content as the brands we work with distribute further and deeper across the web.
Refinery29 uses beautiful and eye catching imagery throughout your content. What advice do you have for using imagery in content?
Visuals absolutely have to be original and authentic to the story, the publisher, and the brand partner. We never use commercial or stock images in our branded content – we create visuals ourselves to cater to our visually-driven audience. Overall, the Refinery29 brand has a strong visual identity, and retaining this aesthetic throughout content – both branded and non-branded – helps us maintain an authenticity that is important to our audience.
Stories from Refinery29’s Snapchat Discover Channel
Which will have the most profound effect (either negative or positive) on native/branded content in the next 12 months?
Rise of third party distribution platforms: Seeing the massive growth of third party distribution channels (Snapchat, Peach, etc) that do not always have official advertising opportunities built in will force brands find organic and non branded ways to tell their stories – most of which will be done through publisher produced strategies because they are the first to have access and scale on these platforms.
In 140 characters or less, what is your favorite tip for creating great content?
Stand for something deeper and have purpose in your storytelling, no matter how subtle. Emotion is the key to a true connection and therefore will lead to a conversation and loyalty.
Pressboard would like to thank Anna Plaks and Refinery29 for speaking with us and contributing to our latest e-book.