Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article.
Since the earliest days of publishing, Philadelphia has been one of the nation’s most bustling media hubs. It was Benjamin Franklin (who owned one of the first printing presses in Philly) who helped establish the City of Brotherly Love as a U.S. publishing giant.
Franklin may have blazed the trail, but it was Cyrus H.K. Curtis who really shaped the industry in Philadelphia during the early twentieth century. Curtis, publisher of the wildly popular Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post, was considered a publishing giant in his day. The Curtis Publishing Company revolutionized the industry with color illustrations and stories written by everyone from Mark Twain to Louisa May Alcott. Norman Rockwell also regularly graced the covers of the Post.
Similarly, The Philadelphia Inquirer has an equally illustrious history. Publishing since 1829, The Inquirer has won 20 Pulitzer Prizes and three Gold Medals for Public Service. Today, it also publishes a digital format.
The industry has come a long way since the twentieth century, and few can argue that the advent of digital publishing and social media hasn’t flipped it on its head. Even still, Philadelphia media companies have rolled with the trends and adapted to the new ways in which Americans get their news.
With ad revenues on the decline, there’s been a very real need for media outlets to rethink their business model. Similarly, more and more companies have had to get creative with regard to brand recognition. Enter companies like Brand.com, a news media platform that’s spearheading the native advertising movement in Philadelphia and beyond. Perhaps the most popular new buzz phrase in the industry, native advertising refers to an imaginative new approach to building brand recognition. Simply put, native ads are sponsored content that flow seamlessly with the publication’s other articles, helping to establish an emotional connection with the reader.
Considering that 60 percent of consumers are more open to online ads that tell a story, the approach makes sense. It isn’t surprising that a growing number of recognizable people are attaching their names to the industry in Philadelphia. Case in point: Two-time governor Ed Rendell recently joined Brand.com’s advisory board.
“Governor Rendell has vast media experience as a public figure, and he understands the needs businesses face in quality messaging,” says Dave Armon, CEO of Brand.com.
According to Armon, Gov. Rendell will play a key role in expanding the company’s PR and publisher affiliate programs.
“True innovation is creating a solution that serves multiple parties or groups, and that is what Brand.com has created,” says Rendell. “Brand.com provides new revenue opportunities for publishers while understanding their editorial standards, and creates a new channel for businesses to reach audiences.”
Companies like Brand.com offer out-of-the-box media solutions that are playing a vital role in contemporary publishing. The platform works by equipping brands to publish professionally written articles directly onto leading news sites, which definitely seems to be the direction in which publishing is headed. Even so, the native advertising movement still has kinks that need to be ironed out. For example, one 2014 survey found that while sponsored content is indeed booming, many readers still don’t fully understand how the model works.
Time will tell what the next industry trend will be. In the meantime, it’s probably a safe bet that content marketing platforms are here to stay.