How Someecards Turns Off-Kilter E-Cards Into Branded Content

duncanHow do you crush it with organic views and shares in a sea of paid content?

Raw humor and parody seem to be doing the trick for Someecards, the e-card site founded by former MRM and Avenue A/Razorfish creative VPs in 2007.

As the self-described antithesis of the Hallmark greeting card, Someecards started out creating viral e-cards and has more recently expanded into content. It has a team of 13 in-house writers and editors, many of whom hail from the comedy writing world, as well as a freelance network of 40.

The company also just hired the former managing editor of Team Coco, late-night host Conan O’Brien’s digital property, as its editor-in-chief.

Someecards’ latest monetization effort is around branded e-cards. Although the company has worked with advertisers and entertainment companies on branded content in the past, it’s ramping up growth, said Someecards CEO Duncan Mitchell.

FOX and TV Land, for instance, created branded e-cards for “Son Of Zorn” and “The Jim Gaffigan Show” related to Father’s Day, and Hulu and NBCu’s Bravo are regular sponsors.

Rather than simply slapping a brand’s logo on an e-card, Someecards aims to co-create content that speaks to a brand client’s ethos. One card sponsored by Starbucks, for instance, read: “Let’s meet for coffee instead of sitting at home liking each other’s photos of coffee.”

Someecards’ satirical nature might not be for every brand, but Mitchell claims the companies it’s partnered with were all looking for something unique beyond a banner ad. 

somecards1“Entertainment [and tune-in] is our top category, but we work with tons of brands, including Microsoft and Ford, [that are] looking for a new way to create a connection with their consumers using humor,” Mitchell said.

“We measure everything that we can from Facebook impressions to comments on Instagram, which we wrap into a dashboard we built showing likes, views and engagement rate.”

Someecards just wrapped up an analysis of 50 pieces of branded content on behalf of brands and feature films, including Zocdoc, Starbucks and the Tina Fey flick “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.”

Those campaigns generated on average 69 million organic impressions, 1.8 million engagements (comments, likes, shares or emails) and an average engagement rate of 2.7%.

“We haven’t done any qualitative studies yet about what humor does for brand recall, but anecdotally we’re seeing strong engagement,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell claims that unlike other publishers, which might buy traffic to support viral lift, Someecards focuses on driving organic impressions.

“The challenge I’ve seen is advertisers still want the largest reach, rather than using quality of engagement as a metric,” Mitchell said. “[But] we have done some paid campaigns and continue to look at paid campaigns, because Facebook is obviously a great place to get extra reach.”

Someecards mostly monetizes via sponsored posts, as well as traditional display on run-of-site and through recommendations.

The site has its own homegrown analytics, but it uses Rubicon Project, DoubleClick for Publishers and Outbrain for its programmatic stack, Chartbeat for additional reporting and SocialFlow on social campaigns.

starbucksSomeecards’ traffic has been susceptible to fluctuations, mainly because its e-cards live all over the web, whether embedded on third-party sites or shared among friends via social posts, email or messaging platforms.

Another factor is that the Someecards audience has mostly moved to mobile, hence the sizable discrepancy between its (declining) 1.1 million desktop visitors this May, and the publisher’s 8.9 million visitors on mobile, according to comScore. Someecards claims 13.2 million US uniques across all platforms, including social.

“We’re also exploring other sharable objects that borrow our brand equity,” Mitchell said. “We’ve always had a mini agency in the company, but we’re thinking about how we formalize that and service people in a way that doesn’t cannibalize our partners’ revenue streams.”

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1 Comment

  1. Cool article however humorous cards wont always cut it in the business sphere as some brands simply don’t lend themselves to this sort of humor.