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Owned Platforms: Up-cycling sponsored media in the digital world

The idea of “Owned Platforms,” otherwise known as private label media captivates me. Procter & Gamble recently announced that The Guiding Light, its oldest sponsored TV soap opera was finally going off air after 72 years on radio, then television. The company then announced that it was launching its own private digital media platform. Initially, Pampers will be sponsoring a series of webisodes called A parent is born about young couples expecting a child. Other projects include digital casting for a variety of product categories in partnership with the likes of NBC Digital Networks.

On October 7th, Procter & Gamble with the aid of its Canadian ‘mommy blogger’ community, launched Rouge Magazine a new magazine and online edition, into the US. It’s targeted to 11M households and “beauty-involved females.” The underlying objective is to build a massive database using the information of those that will be engaging with the brand across multiple owned media platforms. Rouge is beyond freemium…it’s chock-a-block with coupons for P&G beauty products.

One of the reasons owned platforms caught my attention was that it reminded me of traditional sponsored advertising—coming back full circle to digital media but delivered directly by the brand rather than a TV network. Conceptually, the first example that came to mind was when television programming was ‘brought to you’ by a ‘proud sponsor’ like Kraft, Molson, or General Motors. Fast forward…sponsored advertising of old has come full circle into digital.

Ford, out of the automotive industry, is also going deep. The Financial Times has suggested that ‘aggressive’ sub-branding, by companies like Ford, are creating owned platforms and individualizing online sites. For example, Facebook is being used effectively for the Fusion and Fiesta brand hubs where loyalists and potential customers participate in the online community.

The redesigned Fiesta specifically, the worldwide launch of www.fiestamovement.com, makes use of trust agents on-the-ground and online across various digital media to build a high degree of awareness and brand building. It’s getting business results too: over 50,000 inquiries for the Fiesta have been generated in advance of the US market launch.

It’s remarkable how the process of branded product advertising is coming around to look like the early days of television—only the media mix is broader and is being up-cycled. Companies with owned platforms are delivering their brand’s message and driving consumer engagement from any of all of the three screens—sponsored television, Internet, and mobile.

So here is the question: Are companies emerging as ‘social OEMs’ who, through the deployment of owned platforms, are bringing back control of their brands to create equilibrium of push and pull marketing? If so, the science will be in bringing all of the right media and branding elements together; the art will be in reaching brand communities tailor-made for these emerging owned platforms.

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