July 30, 2023
Distributed Media Lab’s comprehensive suite of services has facilitated significant growth of revenue streams for publishers across the country, made possible through a partnership with the Meta Branded Content Project (MBCP).
Since its inception in 2019, MBCP, with the support of DML, has helped publishers generate more than $50 million through a host of services that include:
Local media outlets have also generated an additional $4 million by leveraging local advertiser sponsorships from the 10 turnkey custom content series DML’s Custom Content Studio produces monthly and utilizing DML’s technology for larger campaigns.
Here’s a look at the MBCP, including how it got its start and its ongoing mission to support publishers in generating sustainable revenue.
MBCP started in January 2019 via a pilot program created by Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium and funded by the Meta Journalism Project to accelerate publishers' revenue streams. The initial two phases of the project included approximately 35 publishers who received grant money to test revenue opportunities.
Publishers at the local and national levels participated by testing opportunities like hosting in-person events and creating educational videos to show advertisers the value of branded content.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity for MBCP. As in-person events were no longer a viable option, DML joined the MBCP in 2020 to create a product publishers could sell to local advertisers: branded content series.
The series include articles across 10 evergreen topics with broad appeal, such as senior living, women’s wellness, home maintenance and cannabis. DML’s Content Studio produces the content, its technology allows publishers to distribute it across their websites via a simple embed code, and its advertising team supports sales representatives throughout the end-to-end sales process.
“Publishers can leverage these series and present them as sponsorship opportunities to local advertisers,” said Julia Campbell, MBCP’s general manager. “The revenue generated is a game-changer for them because it allows their editorial teams to continue covering the topics that are essential to creating a well-informed public.”
“DML’s technology and full suite of services enable publishers to continue providing news coverage by expanding their revenue streams,” added DML CEO Dave Gehring.
In 2021, DML created an online Marketplace, allowing publishing partners to easily navigate and access the available MBCP series, as well as editorial collections, an ad campaign manager and custom content orders.
The Marketplace is a one-stop-shop for series collection embed codes, sales support materials (including email scripts, content calendars, decks and custom content support) and editorial-focused collections publishers can embed for free. The editorial collections include content from quality publishers across the open web. DML’s editorial team hand-curates some of the editorial collections while others update automatically.
DML and MBCP now work with more than 200 media companies nationwide, including diverse publishers. The program continues to provide publishers’ sales teams with monthly content across its 10 turnkey lifestyle series.
“We’re not a big company by any means, so this is really a game-changer on the revenue front,” said Willy Grant, director at Great West Digital.
Hundreds of publishers have the branded collections on their websites, including the most popular: Active Aging. Since 2020, the Active Aging collection has elicited more than 16 million impressions, more than 45,000 content views and an average CTR of 1.5%.
MBCP and DML also work together to provide ongoing training for sales teams via weekly and monthly webinars. More than 800 media professionals have participated in an online certificate program, which leverages expertise from external industry leaders and the DML team. The DML team includes experts in sales and operations, media distribution and content creation. Through these training calls, DML shows publishers how to use its unique collection technology to disseminate branded content that sales representatives can sell to local sponsors.
“DML is more than technology. They gathered experts across multiple fields necessary for publishers to create sustainable revenue streams,” Campbell said. “It’s the trifecta, a one-stop shop for everything publishers need.”
MBCP received additional funding in September 2021, allowing DML and the MBCP team to continue serving publishers’ needs through 2023.
Future project initiatives include:
“I can’t see a time in the foreseeable future that Branded Content won’t be a significant part of our solutions selling strategy,” said Tanisha Leonard, president at Pitch Black Magazine.
Through its partnership with MBCP, DML continues to enhance its mission to drive sustainable revenue streams for publishers. This mission is critical in ensuring publishers can continue to inform their communities and facilitate a well-functioning democracy.
“We remain committed to growing robust market opportunities for publishers,” Gehring said. “Our partnership with the Meta Branded Content Project has allowed us to seamlessly distribute quality, sponsored content that generates new revenue streams for publishers.”