IAB Content Studio Showcase: Q&A with Karina Montgomery

Eric Suliga, Creative Director

This post originally appeared on IAB’s blog. Read the full post here.

According to the IAB, publisher content studios have swelled in number in recent years because marketers have recognized publisher’s unique ability to craft marketing communications that allow for longer, deeper, and more narrative than traditional media advertising. Contemporary publisher content studios develop a range of branded content for marketers, designed for the publishers’ owned-and-operated sites, as well as for distribution across other digital and multimedia properties. Really, the name of the game is storytelling vs. overt selling and can include a mix of content forms, including traditional editorial, full-length video programming, short-form video, mobile apps, podcasts, and more.

Our own Karina Montgomery, VP Sales Development, is speaking at IAB’s Content Studio Showcase event next week, so before she hits the stage, Karina caught up with IAB to discuss the rise in publisher content studios and shares some insights on how Pandora approaches them.

Tell us about your content studio. Music does a lot for us. It has the transformative power to bring the listener back to a particular memory. It gets us through break-ups, gets us pumped up before going out with friends and powers us through our workouts. At Pandora, we aim to tap into the power of music for brands by developing content programming that entertains, informs and ultimately allows brands to drive resonance; something that leaves a lasting image or emotion.

Why are publisher content studios so hot now? The media landscape has changed and consumers are 100% in control of what they hear and see. Digital, social media and now connected devices have fragmented content distribution channels, as well as varying consumer attention spans.

As a result, brands are quickly embracing diversified branded content. Having a content lab not only provides clients and agencies with a platform to forge a unique and closer relationship with consumers, it helps us understand the types of content our listeners enjoy and ultimately informs future programming.

We’ve proven branded content can be an ongoing source of sustenance for brands and their agencies, which is why we’re so invested in it. And for agencies specifically, we feel we’re being better partners to them because it takes the relationship and moves it beyond transactional.

What are some of the key questions you consistently get from brands and agencies about your content studio offerings? The topic of authenticity comes up a lot. It’s a meaty topic when you’re talking about 79 Million people in the United States born after 1981 who do not like being advertised to. We have to shift to not talking about ourselves, but what does that consumer want? How do I entertain them? How do I build a relationship with them and provide value? How do we leverage talent (artists and influencers) in a way that doesn’t look or sound like an ad? If we can lead with these questions and develop content that meets those needs, those consumers will ultimately be more likely to pay attention to what the brand is trying to say (and sell).

What makes for a great partnership for branded content success? We love working with agencies and brands with a thirst for creativity and innovation, while not being afraid to take the “brand” out of branded content. We recently partnered with PepsiCo’s fitness water brand Propel and executed a content program that included custom stations featuring influencer fitness instructors, the ability to leverage the accelerometer on smartphones to drive consumers to those stations and then extended it to Propels’ experiential platform though a live music event targeting fitness enthusiasts. Pandora played a critical role in putting the Propel fitness water brand back in the spotlight in an authentic way after a period of being relatively low-profile. We wouldn’t have gotten close to this degree of creativity and innovation without focusing on the consumer and allowing ourselves to push the boundaries of how data, content and technology can work together.

Why is the IAB Content Studio Showcase event important? What’s in it for the brand attendees? With people consuming more information than ever across many platforms, brands are grappling with how to speak effectively to consumers. Content marketing is a really effective way to connect with people on an individualized level while weaving the brand into the cultural conversation. As part of Pandora’s showcase, we’ll take a deeper dive into how we partnered with Propel to create a program that brought the Propel fitness water brand back into the spotlight and the content principles we used to get there.


Are you planning to attend IAB’s Content Studio Showcase in New York? Don’t miss Karina speak on 10/16 at 11:50am.

Want to learn more about how to put your content to work to reach your target audience on Pandora? Reach out to us here.