Forbes Embraces Custom Brand Content With Social Video Play

Today, Forbes announced the launch of BrandVoice Video with a three-part video series from luxury watchmaker Cartier. The advertorial offering – which involves a team that mirrors the business publisher’s pure editorial side – reaffirms Forbes’ commitment to a growing publisher trend toward custom brand content. Forbes produced the Cartier videos, which feature entrepreneurs musing about their inspirations and epiphanies.

“Cartier EntrepreneurVoice: Make Your Move” will run on from this month through February 2013. The first video, featuring Jeremy Bloom, U.S. Olympic skier, former NFL football player, and co-founder of ad tech company Integrate, appears as one of four featured videos on the home page.

BrandVoice, an extension of the AdVoice platform – lets marketers publish and distribute their content on the Forbes platform with social media tools. The content may run throughout the site with a custom label, such as SAPVoice. BrandVoice Video advertisers will get their videos on the home page, in the Forbes Video Network, and anywhere else that the content is relevant.

Aside from the prominent – and prominently labeled – home page placement, BrandVoice content must compete on its merits with the rest of the site content, which is categorized as modules such as Most Popular or Trending, based on page views and social media interactions.

The Forbes sales team is creating a sort of parallel news organization, dubbed a “brand newsroom,” to support advertisers on the BrandVoice platform. It’s staffed by a completely separate team of SEO experts, producers, and social media mavens. Brand producers have created a network of freelance journalists who will be matched with brands – and who are restricted from contributing on the pure editorial side.

“I’ve been working closely with my counterparts on the editorial side to create a mirror operation. Just as they’ve populated the newsroom with social media analysts, SEO experts and producers, so have we, so that we can apply the same kind of polish to each brand post and use the same real-time analytics to understand what’s happening to that content,” said Mark Howard, SVP of digital advertising strategy.

BrandVoice and BrandVoice Video advertisers get access to the content management system, so they can create and post shareable content, in two ways: they can earn access based on total advertising commitments, or via a recently introduced site license arrangement, in which they pay a monthly fee.

The company supports its site license clients with the same resources that it would an advertiser. Cartier is a BrandVoice Video participant based on its print and digital advertising commitments.

The goal is to increase revenue from BrandVoice participants who also buy traditional ads across the site from 10 percent today to 25 percent in 2013.

Since AdVoice launched two years ago, Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, and Oracle are among those that have participated in the online program, while UPS, BMO Harris Bank, and Capital One are scheduled to run brand content. (BrandVoice is also available for the print edition of the magazine.)

The announcement comes in the wake of high interest in custom branded content marketing – as well as in-house production capabilities. In August, Crave Online hired Drew Berkowitz to create custom, rich-media content and ads for clients. Also in August, Federated Media introduced Native Conversationalist Suite, an ad product that automatically finds relevant content and includes a marketer’s written or video content within the editorial well. Say Media is another publisher that provides custom content to advertisers. In May, Odwalla ran rich-media ads and custom content on Say Media’s Gardenista site.

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