Marketplace Minute: How DML Provides High-Performing Custom Content Solutions to Partners

Marketplace Minute: How DML Provides High-Performing Custom Content Solutions to PartnersPhoto: wundervisuals via Getty Images

Custom content is a critical part of any successful marketing strategy — and brands know it!

Why? Custom content sets advertisers apart from their competitors. It allows them to establish authority in their industry and provides consumers with engaging information to help turn readers into customers.

A 2017 Time Inc. survey of more than 17,000 Gen Z, millennials and Gen X consumers found that two-thirds trust custom content more than advertising. That same survey found that 89% said custom content breaks through the marketing clutter.

Content—not advertorials—rules the roost in the new marketing age. The best way for brands to draw potential customers into their funnel is by producing unique and engaging content that establishes them as an authority in their respective industries.

That’s why Distributed Media Lab’s (DML) Custom Content Studio provides premium content solutions to publishers and their sponsors across the country.

Our top three custom content campaigns so far in 2022 received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 11.16%, outperforming the industry average of a 3-4% CTR.

DML also creates brand collections exclusively of custom content. For example, in January, DML launched the Community EmPOWERment collection on behalf of the New Pittsburgh Courier. The Courier then embedded the collection on its website’s homepage, creating significant engagement and brand exposure for the client, Duquense Light Co. The collection’s CTR stands at 2.27% so far in 2022, with an average of 1.84 for viewer engagement. That means that every person who opened the collection read about two articles each time.

How do we do it? Find out below.

How DML Creates a Successful Custom Content Campaign

We identify the target audience.

Identifying a brand’s target audience is a critical first step in creating the best custom content. Engaging content may or not be directly relevant to the sponsor’s product or service but is relevant to the consumers they’re hoping to capture. 

For example, HVAC companies’ customers are often middle-aged homeowners with families. Middle-aged homeowners with families are also interested in seasonal events, family-friendly festivals or outdoor exploration in their state. In this instance, a successful custom content campaign would involve content mostly focused on lifestyle topics like the best places to explore in the state, with HVAC-focused articles dispersed throughout the content calendar.

We capture sponsors’ goals, tone and initiatives.

To ensure our established writers cater articles to align with clients' goals, DML connects with brands to determine the company mission, current campaigns and tone.

We ask every partner to fill out our Brand Discovery questionnaire. The responses here help us develop a custom content strategy that captures advertisers’ initiatives and objectives while simultaneously connecting with an engaged audience.

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We create a seamless deliverable process from start to finish.

Every custom content campaign includes:

  • A dedicated content strategy call with the client.
  • A creative brief outlining the content strategy and themes
  • A content calendar
  • Two rounds of revision.
  • A final, professional piece the client will be proud to sponsor.

Clients and partners will work directly with our editorial and advertising team directors to identify and address every critical element and touchpoint.

We only contract with established, professional writers.

DML’s team of writers are experts in their fields, with knowledge and experience in a wide range of topics. Our writers have several years of experience covering it all—from sports betting to outdoor exploration, climate issues to parenting, travel to cannabis and much more.

We provide a unique technology solution.

DML collections drive tremendous reader engagement and advertiser value through their unique format that publishers can (and do!) seamlessly integrate into their own content experiences.

Advertisers have several options when it comes to creating a custom collection:

  • DML’s publishing partner posts custom articles to their site, ensuring they leverage the AMP framework. They then send the URL to the DML team to add to the sponsored collection.
  • DML publishes the article and adds it to the sponsored collection. 
  • Brands publish articles directly to their blog and provide an AMP’d link, which DML adds to the custom collection.

Advertisers can also opt to receive a Google Doc or Word Doc version of articles for self-publishing purposes. 

Our analytics allow you to track and optimize your custom content campaign. 

We provide reports on the second Monday of each month that include:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR
  • Content engagement

The reports ensure publishers and clients are well informed and can work with the DML team to optimize performance.

Custom content is the perfect solution if you want to stand out from competitors and connect with spend-ready consumers. DML’s Content Studio is here to help you meet your goals. Ready to get started? Simply fill out our custom content form in the DML Marketplace or email Caitlin@distributedmedialab.com!


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Caitlin Hendee

Caitlin Hendee
Director of Editorial
Distributed Media Lab