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Hi, everyone! This newsletter is dedicated to Keke Palmer, whose now-ex boyfriend called her out for dancing with Usher (who among us wouldn’t if given the chance). She has done the funniest thing possible and…collaborated with Usher.
—Kinsey, cofounder and head of editorial
Why We (Still) Believe in B2B Branded Content
One of the core philosophies of Smooth Media (up there with don’t tell Jenny “everything is good” when she asks for a status update) is that the world doesn't need more mediocre content. We apply this truth to everything we do—newsletters, shows, social…but also: branded content.
Because a big chunk of our profitable modern media business is powered by strong, sustainable partnerships with brands that enable us to continue publishing world class content for free to our readers. Ads aren’t bad, and the best ads? They’re genuinely good pieces of content that add value to the audience and enrich their experience.
I asked Colin Richardson, our head of partnerships, how he explains our approach to branded content to potential partners. Here’s what he shared:
“In our target industries, there's no shortage of valuable products and services, but we've definitely seen a gap in quality, engaging content that tells a story around how those products and services deliver value in the real world.”
“Quality branded content not only communicates the value that our brand partners bring to the table, but also does so in an engaging way that the audience actually enjoys.”
“Everyone should win with quality branded content—our creators have fun making it, the audience is excited to consume it, and our brand partners get their message out there."
“Without branded content,” Colin said, “the bottom of the funnel may be covered, but it's hard to effectively bring new prospects or customers into the fold.”
And BOY do we love branded content for doing all that. In fact, we love branded content so much that our wonderful ops associate Ali Ben-Levi helped us pull together 7 of our favorite examples, both within and without the Smooth universe, to share today.
1) The OG content marketing: Like all the most revolutionary things in life, it came from a tire company. The Michelin strategy for making a name for yourself—a classic.
2) WorkDaze x WorkLab → Your Newest Work Bestie Is…AI. We were really proud of this piece, which did an awesome job of distilling information from Microsoft WorkLab’s Work Trend Index report, highlighting what we believed was most relevant to our audience, and writing about it in the most fun way (also FYI WorkDaze is the media brand we created in partnership with creator Rod Thill).
Name a better lineup…
There are stats, but you’re not drowning in them. There’s the characteristic WorkDaze millennial humor, but it doesn’t minimize the partner.
This is a prime example of seeking out partnerships that feel natural—we would cover this in WorkDaze even without a signed IO.
Honorable mention from WorkDaze: WorkDaze’s DeClassified Job Search Survival Guide, which we made in partnership with VisualCV.
3) The Vienna Tourist Board x OnlyFans → The Vienna Tourist Board teamed up with OnlyFans to display the city’s famous nude art when it was censored on other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Every OnlyFans subscriber got free entrance to Vienna’s museums. 🤌
4) The Publish Press x .Store → At the Publish Press (which we created in partnership with Colin & Samir), we have an in-depth partnership with .Store, an e-commerce-focused domain extension that makes it super simple and intuitive for creators to set up a store.
.Store Domains has been around for a while, but the team had ambitious goals to make a splash in the creator space by appealing to creatives ready to monetize their worlds in new ways. Through a year-long campaign spanning newsletter sponsorships, branded articles, and an in-person creator event in LA, we are bringing that goal to life.
5) Mattress Firm x iHeartMedia → Chasing Sleep podcast. A branded podcast about how people get rest despite super weird schedules? Works. The campaign reportedly drove 4x return on ad spend and a 45% lift in incremental sales.
6) Morning Brew x Lincoln Financial → The Brew (hey we know them!) partnered with Lincoln Financial on money meditations “to help you envision the financial future you want.” Incredible design, truly useful content.
7) Salary Transparent Street x Indeed → Hannah Williams of Salary Transparent Street (whom we partner with to make a fabulous weekly newsletter) has a longstanding relationship with jobs site Indeed that just makes so much sense. This TikTok Hannah made using an Indeed filter 1) felt natural to the platform 2) was in line with Hannah’s everyday content people know and love and 3) sparked conversation. Win win win.
Two good reads/listens from friend of Smooth Brian Morrissey’s The Rebooting: The next wave of B2B media and Literally Media’s approach to creator partnerships
Tori Dunlap of Her First $100K is so smart, and sharing how she used TikTok to get 100K newsletter subs in a week is so cool.
RedCircle’s host-read ad platform grew 100% YoY last quarter.
Erika Ayers Badan (formerly Erika Nardini) shares how she plans to keep Barstool on track even if Dave Portnoy insists it’s a “pirate” ship.
Illinois passed a law to protect child influencers.
#digibuzzcodevoxious is a term we coined back in our Morning Brew days—a portmanteau of Digiday, BuzzFeed, Recode, Vox, and Axios. Obviously, the year was 2018 and the interest rates were zero. But still, the sentiment of “interesting media trends and news” remains. So the name stays.
No, we were just all listening to “Photograph.”
Thanks for reading! People who get to the bottom of the newsletter are the best, and I also think they’re the type of people who share advice with a notoriously bad planner (hi) trying to start planning a wedding. If you have tips on party-planning, please share them with me! Yes this is a call for help.