Melissa Drucker is Head of Sales and Brand Partnerships at Tastemade, a food and travel network for millennials. Within a short amount of time Drucker has built a team of 54 business professionals and increased revenue 200%. Prior to Tastemade, Drucker worked as the SVP of Ad Sales for the cable network BBC America.
VideoInk: Branded entertainment has had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day it’s still a meaningful way of funding formats and a crucial component of a company’s programming mix. How does Tastemade approach creating branded that isn’t in-your-face but still achieves everyone’s branding goals?
Melissa Drucker:Tastemade focuses on best-in-class storytelling, which hinges on authenticity and conveying the identity and values of a brand over blatant promotion. As a result, I think we’ve been pretty successful at inspiring, entertaining and making valuable connections with our audience who has come to expect quality programming without heavy-handed brand integration. Our partners have also learned to trust us to deliver this across leading platforms. A good example is our recent success with Uncharted, presented by L.L. Bean. The promotion was quite subtle, but perfectly reflects the brand ethos with tangible impact. Not only did it win a 2017 James Beard Award, but it performed incredibly well across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on Tastemade.com.
VI: In your opinion, is the age of the influencer past its hey day? Why / why not?
Drucker: Not in our case! When it comes to influencers, our Tastemakers will always be an integral part of what differentiates us, and they’re significant to our overall value proposition. We’ve put a lot of care into curating them, and have local Tastemakers in each of our diverse markets around the world. Through the personal lens of these Tastemakers, viewers can experience unique moments from an array of cultures and flavors along the way. We often pair an influencer activation with a series, with media, or an event at our studios.
VI: For the brands you’re working with and / or pitching, which platforms are “musts” for them? Any particular distribution channel that has to make it into the pitch and why?
Drucker: Brands want to be confident that their stories will reach the widest audience possible with the greatest impact. So, for our partners, it’s not about singling out a specific channel as a priority — it’s more about the fact that Tastemade can provide comprehensive distribution across all major platforms, with customized programming for each unique channel. Whether it’s content on our wildly popular Snapchat Discover channel, or addictive stories on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Apple TV, or the Tastemade app — we can maximize the opportunities for reach and engagement. This is one of the reasons why Tastemade is so appealing to brands.
VI: What do you think makes for an effective branded campaign?
Drucker: When it comes to digital programming and effective campaigns, there are three keys: maintaining the integrity of a brand through authentic and original storytelling; a keen focus on quality content; and wide, but customized distribution with programming that resonates directly with our millennial audience.
Additionally, because each distribution platform has a unique audience with unique viewing habits, we ensure that every piece of content we create with a brand is native to the respective platform. We also make sure that the content we create isn’t just high-quality, but that it moves the needle for our partners in the areas that matter most to them. To that end, we identify which metrics matter to each advertiser in the very beginning, and work with each platform’s measurement offerings and/or other measurement solutions in order to really maximize the opportunity and impact.
VI: With so many variables across platforms (audio limitations, auto play, algorithms etc), how does your team create campaigns that leap frog these audience barriers?
Drucker: This is where Tastemade’s powerhouse of data comes into play. For many years, we’ve been operating at scale across all major platforms, and are able to leverage massive data sets that provide us unique insights on how to optimize video and campaigns for each platform. Many brands are looking for an efficient cross-platform solution at scale with a partner who deeply understands the nuances of each platform — and we do just that.