Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Brands Get an Education in Learning

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Brands Get an Education in Learning

Article excerpt

The year is still young, but a new marketing buzzword has already emerged - branded learning. You haven't heard of it? Don't worry. It's a recent invention of a Brighton-based New Jersey entrepreneur called Len Fertig. The first fruits of his neologism will become apparent next month.

Not only does Fertig have a fertile imagination, he has also had an extensive grounding in the media on both sides of the Atlantic. He was involved in the early days of the cable business in the US and successfully launched the first commercial television channels in Eastern Europe for US cosmetics billionaire Ronald Lauder.

For some time Fertig had been looking at the prospect of acquiring or launching specialist, minority satellite television channels in the UK, but in the end he became convinced that for most of them the economics simply didn't stack up, as there was an obvious tendency for them to cannibalise each other. Instead, he went off to Brighton to become chief executive of Futuremedia, a company specialising in online training courses for big blue-chip companies.

One evening on the way to be a panellist at a branded-content conference, the television side of Fertig's career joined up with the e-learning side and the term 'branded learning' came into his mind.

The first iteration of the concept is Wine TV, the Sky wine channel, which will involve creating online learning and linked transactions for everything to do with wine to sit alongside the channel. Apart from courses and discussion forums, a wine expert could even be on the other end of a text message to check the quality and value of a restaurant wine.

Fertig is convinced that the desire to learn can be used to assemble upmarket specialist audiences who can then be encouraged to have the desire to buy. The TV channel can be used to cross-promote and drive users to the site. Branded learning websites could also be developed alongside other satellite channels. Remember, you heard it here first.

Meanwhile, in the broadcasting education jungle, a huge row is brewing over the BBC's digital curriculum BBC jam - an online service aimed at five- to 16-year-olds that went live last week. Private-sector educational publishers were aghast at the prospect of the BBC using licence fee money to pull the rug out from under them by offering free curriculum-based material. …

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