|Affluent audiences respond to content. As this year's Ipsos Affluent Survey revealed, the affluent and wealthy continue to consume content at growing levels both online and off. That's why brands like Porsche, Burberry and Kate Spade invest so much in content creation. It's why Michael Kors was the first brand to advertise on Instagram. Content presents the opportunity for luxury brands to create experiences in digital media.
Social media has provided an excellent platform for brands to syndicate their messages to fans of their brands and to grow their audiences. Nordstrom loves Pinterest; Longchamp and Calvin Klein, among others, have effectively leveraged YouTube.
How are the other channels playing out? L'Oreal's content site, Makeup.com, seems to be thriving; its content is frequently featured on BuzzFeed. The site features fashion and makeup tips that can easily be shared on Facebook and Pinterest. While the content is original and pithy, it does feature products from L'Oreal brands like Lancome and Urban Decay - but in ways that are helpful rather than obnoxious. For example, a how-to video on a current eye makeup trend is captioned with phrases like "I like Maybelline Great Lash mascara," as a makeup artist demonstrates her mascara technique.
Who else is owning the "owned" channel? Hermes recently (and in time for the holidays) created a narrative video piece for its site that aimed to recreate the feeling of anticipation as we wait for a package to arrive - in a very artsy, French and typically Hermes kind of way. Throughout the story, Hermes clothes and accessories are showcased, of course. The video was promoted on the brand's Facebook page. Hermes, whose site is full of engaging, unique and shareable content, is currently promoting another video and its "Silk Knots" app on its homepage.
On the earned side, Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop newsletter - once an intimate newsletter for like-minded (and high-earning) friends and fans - has grown into an empire. The newsletter highlights boutiques, restaurants and hotels in select cities, as well as designers and contemporary thought leaders. Paltrow, who has nearly two million Twitter followers, now curates "collections" on Goop, featuring new and established luxury brands including Rag and Bone and Helmut Lang. With Paltrow's following of wealthy and aspiring girlfriends, all of whom trust the star's impeccable taste, Goop seems the perfect vehicle for luxury brands to engage women. (Note that popular collection items frequently sell out.)
And what about paid media? While traditional "closed" native and paid editorial may be the first thought for some brands, the playing field is actually much wider. Will Price of Flite recently published a blog post touting the effectiveness of programmatic to extend the reach of content-marketing efforts. But does it work? Of course, it does. As both men and women consume more of their favorite content on tablets, smartphones and desktops, their favorite brands have vehicles to follow their audiences. Bigger and better rich media ad units (like the IAB Rising Stars) allow brands to plug in their unique content, whether it's a photo, video or other format. Some multi-module ad units allow for, say, a logo, a video and a store finder or even an e-commerce app.
But the ability to add in original content is only half the story; the advantage of paid media is that brands don't have to wait for customers to find their content. They can place their content in the path of their target audience. The opportunity is even more powerful if the ad units are standard (like the IAB Rising Stars) and can be placed programmatically. Then brands have the ability to target more effectively, ensuring their content touches the right audiences at the right moments - and achieve scale.