Wrangler's western lifestyle website, which features rodeo and country music content, was originally intended as a content marketing ploy to get consumers engaging with the apparel brand. Now, the site also generates some ad revenue. PHOTO: WRANGLER
Yeti and MGM Grand are among the advertisers supporting wranglernetwork.com
Nov. 30, 2016 12:52 p.m. ET
When Wrangler set up a western lifestyle website three years ago, the hope was to generate some buzz for the jeans brand and drive sales. But there was a side benefit: it turned into a nice advertising business on its own.
The site, wranglernetwork.com, features rodeo and country music content as well as news and was intended as a content marketing ploy to get customers engaging with the apparel brand.
But well-known marketers saw the site, which the company says averages about 1 million monthly visitors, as a destination to reach their target customers.
Cooler brand Yeti and MGM Grand are among the advertisers on the site, which has enjoyed a 100% increase in revenue from ads in 2016, compared to 2015, said a company spokeswoman. Some annual ad deals with brands can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Craig Errington, vice president of marketing communications at Wrangler.
The company declined to comment on the site’s specific financials.
The Wrangler Network site started out with a western theme, with content that included live-streamed rodeo events and featured topics like football, Nascar and action sports. Now, the site is expanding its focus to include country music through a new partnership with Universal Music Group. Musician George Strait, who has his own namesake line of Wrangler apparel, recently held the first in a series of country music concerts to be livestreamed on the site.
“It’s a great cycle” of “more content, more advertising and more revenue” that the company then reinvests in partnerships like the one it has with UMG, said Mr. Errington. In the case of UMG, the ad revenue covers some music rights and production costs.
Originally, the site was meant to “provide an additional medium to talk to our consumers,” as well as “to get additional consumers,” he said. But advertisers like Yeti, MGM Grand in Vegas, where a national rodeo event is held, and Wrangler retailer partner Cavender’s “recognized” that the site reached their customers as well. Other advertisers buying into the “western lifestyle” audience included Las Vegas Events, Resistol, Pendleton Whisky and Experience Kissimmee, the company said.
About one-third of the people who come to the site are between 18 and 34 years old, and about 60% are visiting through mobile devices, said Mr. Errington.
Still, ad revenue is only an added bonus for Wrangler. “It continues to help the buzz of the Wrangler brand,” said Mr. Errington. “We’ll continue to shift our media mix to digital in general, specifically to more social and to the Wrangler Network as well after seeing what it can do.”
A number of marketers have turned to alternative branding strategies like native ads and sponsored content to break through in a cluttered digital ad environment where ad-skipping and ad-blocking are on the rise. Some, like Wrangler, have gone even further by developing full-on, standalone sites. General Electric was among the earlier brands to fund a publication -- a science and technology blog called Txchnologist. Mondelez last year announced a new content strategy, including a live skydiving event titled “Heaven Sent” for Fox, which promoted Stride Gum, as well as a partnership with BuzzFeed to create a new content brand focused on the well-being space. Chase also recently funded a stand-alone travel site by Vox Media called Meridian.
Like most digital publishers, Wrangler has expanded its ad offering beyond standard banners, to include custom content and sponsorships. Soon after signing on as a “standard advertiser” a year ago, Yeti also began sponsoring a show on the site called “Yeti Wild Rides,” which features wild rodeo content. MGM also signed on as an advertiser on the network after a long partnership in which the companies cross-promoted their brands during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Currently, Wrangler’s marketing and social teams oversee the online publication, with help from public relations agency French/West/Vaughan and Kentucky-based content company Blue Million. But Mr. Errington said that a dedicated ad sales team could come in handy.
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