Putting together a sponsored content program is a time-consuming headache for buyers and publishers.
BrandVerge, a marketplace where buyers can browse publishers’ sponsored content options, aims to make it faster and easier to create sponsored content deals. The platform claims to shorten the deal-making process by an average of 67%.
Smaller agencies and direct-to-consumer brands often don’t have the resources to know about all the audience and activation options from different publishers. And publishers often waste time responding to dozens of RFPs before one pans out.
BrandVerge co-founders Lynn Browne and Mollie Kehoe, coming from the agency side and a publisher, respectively, are trying to solve this problem with a platform that charges an SaaS fee to show available sponsored content deals. Buyers currently browse for free.
One of the first deals recently transacted on the platform. Bedding startup Under the Canopy used BrandVerge to partner with DIY publisher Brit + Co for its fall #CreateGood event.
“We are a nimble company, and we don’t have a media buyer on staff,” said Earthbound Brands marketing director Ryane Montanez. The small brand management agency doesn’t have a media team. “Before, it felt like reaching out to a black hole. Instead of going to 100 people on my own, BrandVerge helps me get connected directly with media companies.”
Using BrandVerge, Montanez perused different proposals. Instead of receiving a huge deck from a salesperson with tons of options that weren’t a fit for her client, she could quickly home in on the proposals that worked for her.
BrandVerge raises Brit + Co’s visibility with buyers. “There are way more accounts than I can call on in a year,” said Terri Hintz, Brit + Co’s senior director of brand partnerships.
The platform also solves timing problems. Sometimes, Hintz has connected with the right brand, but just after its team finished planning all their media for a year, meaning she’ll have to wait until the next planning cycle to close a deal.
“BrandVerge feels like a dating site, where it’s matching people who are looking for the same things,” Hintz said.
Brit + Co loads generic proposal ideas into BrandVerge, and includes information such as pricing, the minimum buy and its own capabilities for custom content, video and events. BrandVerge bars other publishers from viewing each other’s rates.
After Under the Canopy found Brit + Co’s proposal, it negotiated and transacted the deal directly. BrandVerge plans to add the ability to negotiate and customize deals within the platform this year, and next year will start thinking about how to offer deal execution and post-buy analytics.
By making it easier for smaller brands and agencies to do custom content programs, BrandVerge could provide another reason for a brand to take more projects in-house without having to hire extensively.
But BrandVerge’s co-founders said they aren’t trying to replace the agency, but to simply reduce the busy work so clients can focus on strategy. Plus, some early clients, like Earthbound Brands, are going without agencies anyway.
“When I would work with my media team at Macy’s, I would state our goal, who we want to reach and ask them to go out to companies and see what they would propose,” Montanez said. “This feels like having a media team without the actual person.”