Marketing services company UBM DeusM has attracted high-profile brands including Dell, Intel and Microsoft to sponsor Future Cities, an online community launched last month to focus on the development of the world's cities.
Discussions on the site encompass everything from healthcare to energy and information technology, drawing together diverse vertical and regional resources from across the UBM portfolio of companies.
“The groups at UBM each cover a component of globalization. So if we work together as a company, we have a comprehensive globalization community,” said Stephen Saunders, managing director of DeusM. He expects the site to receive 1 million page views within the first six months of operation, with at least 5,000 messages from the community posted per month.
Future Cities joins a roster of 35 sites built with DeusM's Community in a Box, a multimedia publishing service focused on community and content development. The company has used the tool to develop multisponsor sites for UBM properties as well as single-sponsor sites for marketers.
UBM has become a leader in developing community sites largely as a result of the scalability of the Community in a Box model, said Chuck Richard, VP-lead analyst at media research company Outsell Inc. “[Future Cities] is a very visible example of the social component of a broad UBM push into marketing as a service,” he said.
Future Cities represents a hybrid of business models.
“The site is multisponsored, but each sponsor can own its content section exclusively and get the benefit of the single-sponsor model,” Saunders said. Future Cities features 120 subcategories, and marketers can align their brands with verticals in which only their banner ads, white papers and other marketing collateral will display.
Sales teams across UBM are building on existing client relationships to bring sponsors to the site, and DeusM is relying on editorial staff within UBM units for insight as it builds a network of site editors and contributors. The division emphasizes community voices, training journalists to focus on cultivating conversations. “The role of the editor is getting the community to write,” Saunders said.
The content must be clean, unique and free of marketer influence, Saunders said. The site employs copy editors and spurns aggregation. “Everyone is looking for the secret of how they are going to make money on the Internet,” Saunders said. “But it isn't a secret. It's the same thing that has always made publishers successful: It's the quality of the content.”