MediaRadar Blog

Branded Content Studios Are the New Norm for B2B Publications

Why Advertisers and Publishers Need Branded Content Studios More Than Ever

Content has always been at the heart of B2B advertising, from a catchy tagline at the end of a TV commercial to in-depth whitepapers ready for CIOs and CTOs to download. 

Those sole use cases are too narrow-sighted for 2023. 

Today, content is spreading its wings into the publishing world as the likes of The Wall Street Journal tackle a two-headed monster only branded content studios can fend off. 

The two-headed monster: 

  1. Publications are struggling with declining ad revenue as Google, Apple, and others batten down the hatches on their data.
  2. Advertisers are scrambling to figure out how to deliver effective ads without third-party cookies.

These all-too-real challenges are putting a premium on branded content studios. They’re giving publications an extra revenue stream, but also enabling advertisers to continue delivering thoughtful campaigns to consumers.

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What Are Branded Content Studios for B2B Publications?

Branded content studios are in-house services offered by publications that allow advertisers to create native-like ads that engage the publication’s niche audience. Branded content studios also provide B2B publications with a revenue stream that can help them weather declining ad revenue and deliver ad experiences their users demand. 

Supply and Demand for Branded Content Studios

The demand for branded content studios is being met across verticals, and media types as publishers tap new revenue streams and advertisers prepare for the downfall of third-party cookies.

Meta (formerly Facebook) recently introduced Meta Boost Small Business Studios to help oft- understaffed advertisers make the most of their ad dollars. 

Meanwhile, Snap launched a global creative studio, Arcadia, to help brands with augmented reality (AR) advertising on Snapchat. 

But content studios have their place beyond social’s walls, and a growing number of B2B publications are touting their services. 

Why? Because they have to. 

The demise of third-party cookies is putting a crunch on publications’ ad revenues. For example, the New York Times Company saw digital ad revenues decline by 2.4% in Q2 2022. While that decrease seems insignificant, when a long-standing industry giant starts treading water, you know trouble is on the horizon, especially for smaller publications that rely on ad revenue to stay afloat.  

Branded content studios can help replace some of that lost revenue.

According to Digiday’s Olivia Morley, content packages at Business Journals range from $5k to $70k. 

Without third-party cookies, advertisers have a less surefire way to engage their target audience across these publications. 

What do they do? Shift their ad dollars to ecosystems with the targeting capabilities necessary to find the needle (their customers) in the haystack (the internet). Some of the increasingly appealing options are OTT, Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, given the availability of first-party data.  

Long story short, branded content studios will keep publications profitable and provide advertisers with a way to get in front of their target audience without third-party cookies—and do it in the native-like way consumers find appealing.  

In fact, 68% of consumers trust native ads seen in an editorial context, compared to 55% for ads on social media.

But what does branded content coming from these studios look like in practice?

The Growing World of Branded Content

Publishers do clarify when articles are branded and paid for, but the content itself largely reads like any of the many ‘how to’s or ‘what’s new’ articles on these B2B platforms. 

Fast Company, for example, published a video and article showing how Pzifer is using data, AI and ML technology to boost innovation

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal worked with Slack on a campaign called ‘Channeling Innovation.’ The campaign launched a number of case studies and ‘how-to’ articles designed to spark conversation around collaboration and enterprise operations. 

Examples of B2B Branded Content Studios

  • The Trust covers The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s platforms, translating into in-depth campaigns across multiple media formats. 
  • FastCo. Works bills itself as ‘progressive’ business news, letting brands push content around innovation, social campaigns and more. 
  • The Business Journals Content Studio is positioned locally to reach small businesses across the US. 
  • Bloomberg Media Group focuses on business news, meaning branded B2B content has a natural fit on the platform. 
  • Forbes Content & Design Studio is an in-house creative team responsible for producing content solutions across digital, video, social and print that help brands connect to their target audience.

Outside of these digitally-oriented publications, most major news publications and channels now have branded content studios available for their advertisers — The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, among them. 

Plenty of podcast publishers (like Gimlet, Midroll and PMCC Inc.) have launched their own brand studios to create compelling audio around long-form native advertising. 

Publishers of all shapes and sizes have seen their advertisers’ need for quality branded content — and they’re now pitching the solution. 

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