American Media launching ‘high-quality’ branded content studio

American Media said it will crank up a branded content studio and has hired three new creatives, reporting to Dylan Howard, the company’s chief content officer, with more hires expected in the near future.

He said the studio will work on “words, video and other digital elements” and that he eventually expects to hire a half dozen people.

Ysolt Usigan, most recently at the Weather Channel where she was director of branded content and earlier at Time, XO Group, CBS and NBC, will be the senior director of the studio. Chenda Ngak, who was Usigan’s deputy at the Weather Channel, is also joining as a producer/editor/writer.

“The new studio underscores our commitment to producing high-quality, impactful opportunities for our partners and entertaining content for our readers,” said Howard.

In the past year, the company has teamed up with the Weinstein Company to produce the Investigation Discovery channel offering produced specials focusing on the murders involving JonBenét Ramsey and the daughter of Casey Anthony, and the National Enquirer show on REELZ has been renewed for a second season.

AMI has to tread carefully on its native content development. An earlier effort with Star magazine resulted in a reprimand from the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division. The NAD was critical of an advertorial running in Star because readers were directed to the ad inside by a front-page headline that the NAD said could confuse consumers, since it was not labeled as a link to an advertisement.

AMI said it disagreed with the findings but that the campaign had already run its course. “​As we stated previously, AMI disagreed with NAD’s position and has moved on,” said a company spokesman.

Publishing giants such as Time Inc.’s The Foundry and Condé Nast with its 23 Stories division are also striving to capture a bigger slice of the booming native ad market, which is growing even while more traditional print display ads decline.


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