- Vox Media is expanding its sponsored content division with the new Explainer Studio, which creates videos for brands based on the publisher's popular Explainer video format, per The Wall Street Journal. Advertisers such as Spotify, NFL Fantasy Football and Ben & Jerry’s are sponsoring videos featuring people explaining topics like fantasy football and the effect ice cream has on the brain.
- The move means the publisher will be adding eight to 10 members to its current 40-person branded content division. Explainer Studio is headed by creative director Graham Nelson and is expected to double its staff in the next 12 months to keep pace with advertiser demand, Armando Turco, general manager for Vox Creative, told the Journal.
- Vox Media said its branded content revenue has more than doubled over last year.
The news is the latest example of how publishers are looking to offer brands more options for investing in digital video, a format that is popular with consumers and helps publishers address their digital monetization issues. Time Inc. had a similar motivation last week when it partnered with Google for a proprietary outstream video ad unit.
While publishers have had a rough stretch with digital advertising thanks to declining display ad rates and rising adoption for ad block technology along with fake news and online ad fraud issues, branded content is one way these companies can bring their strengths to bear in production while offering a premium ad format. With the Explainer Studio, Vox is playing to an area where it already has a noted reputation in simply presenting topics of interest. The roster of brands who have already signed, which includes KFC and the USA network, suggests brands are interested in exploring this format. The straightforward video explanations could help brands attract customers. The Ben & Jerry's video, for example, explains the science of why people like ice cream so much.
While many publishers prioritize quantity over quality Turco told the Journal that The Explainer Studio will focus on the latter.
Branded content is big business. A report from last year conducted by Borrell Associates projected $183 billion in sponsored and native ads by 2020.