Mountain Dew's branded content hub may turn advertising into a profit center, as evidenced by their success with Green-Label.com.
Six months after consolidating its digital media efforts into a lifestyle hub called Green-Label.com, the site has proved its mettle and is ready to host ads from other, compatible brands.
Six months ago, Complex Media and Mountain Dew launched Green-label.com, a joint venture, to become a hub for lifestyle content for young males. It replaced several websites and a YouTube channel that had been overseen by PepsiCo Americas Beverages since 2007.
The change, according to Jamal Henderson, senior product manager for Mountain Dew, was consumer-led. Millennials don't think of art, music, fashion and other interests in a siloed fashion, he says. "They're all interconnected from a passion point standpoint. It's all things in emerging youth culture."
He adds, "We still have a great dotcom; but when you think about repeat visitors and an ongoing dialog, it's a change from campaign-based marketing to always on."
That always-on element is the result of almost nonstop publishing by a dedicated editorial team led by Complex Media. The site publishes eight to 12 new and original pieces each day, from quick-hit news pieces to multimedia to long-form pieces. Some aim to build search-engine equity while others are designed to promote social sharing.
"Historically, when brands want to get press, they have to create content, write a press release, and hope that MTV or whoever picks it up positively and in a way that’s meaningful for their brand," says Moksha Fitzgibbons, head of sales and marketing at Complex. "Now, they can construct that story and market it out to consumers. We've taken the hoping and guessing out of it."
In its 10-year-old partnership with PepsiCo, Complex Media also worked with Dr. Pepper on a social media campaign that promoted music videos of up-and-coming artists. In October, it broke a new campaign for Dockers, also aimed at Millennia males, that featured a shoppable video with British hip-hop artist Tinie Tempah.
From July through November 2013, Green-label.com has grown steadily, with page views growing by 500 percent. The site averages 10 page views per visit and four minutes average visit duration, both doubling from July. Says Henderson, "The site is at a point where we will be able to support that, and it continues to legitimize us as a destination, as opposed to a corporate website."
This month, Complex will begin to sell outside ads for the site, although the brands and their creative will be vetted by Mountain Dew. Both companies will share revenue. For now, Green-label.com will not create native or custom ads specific to its site; instead it will host ad campaigns running across the Complex Media Network that includes other sites targeted toward young males, such as Androids Dance and Sneaker Report.
In other words, if you look at Green-label.com as advertising, Mountain Dew is on track to turn its advertising from a cost center into a profit center.
Says Henderson, "This whole thing is a native ad in some ways -- and I think one of the coolest articulations of that."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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