‘Quality is the only key’ – lessons from Spain’s La Factoría

“We are eager to try any new technology that we think might be interesting for storytelling, or efficient content strategies in any format,” says Virginia Lavín Amirola, Editorial Director at La Factoría, the branded-content production unit of the Spanish publishing house Prisa.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | March 24, 2017

Prisa is one of the most important media groups in the Spanish-speaking world, with 18 million followers online and more than 4.8 million readers on the print side. It owns El País, a daily newspaper, Diario AS, a sports newspaper, and Cinco Días,a business newspaper

La Factoría has clients around the world, including some of the largest companies in Spain, such as Renfe, Bankia and El Corte Inglés, and international brands such as Siemens, Amadeus and Netflix.

La Factoría employs journalists, designers, developers, data analysts and experts in digital marketing and social networks. They produce and manage content marketing strategies and multiplatform branded content for their customers.

Lavín, who will speak at the Digital Media Europe Conference, 24-26 April in Copenhagen, tells WAN-IFRA’s Ángela Pontes Rodríguez how La Factoría has become a leading content marketing agency in Spain.

WAN-IFRA: When was La Factoría launched, and what were the initial goals for it?

Virginia Lavín Amirola: It was born in the late 1990s to produce content for the TV channel Canal Plus, which is owned by Grupo Prisa.

La Factoría produced their customer magazine, a monthly publication about TV entertainment. After that experience, the heads of the company thought: ‘If we can do branded content for our own TV channel, we can do it for anyone.’ In few years, La Factoría became a leader in corporate publishing.

How many staff do you have and what are their roles?

We are about 60 people, most of them journalists – some of them with a digital marketing profile – plus photographers and videographers, designers, infographics artists, developers and commercial staff.

Your slogan is ‘We create, convert and measure.’ Can you tell us a little more about the unique measurement system that you mention on your website? 

We changed our website slogan just this week to put more emphasis on creativity.

We measure every single action by users, but data analysis platforms are now very well-developed and quite standard. We have a project, though, to develop our own formula to measure engagement. But work is still in progress.

In 2016, La Factoría created native apps for the most important magazines of El País (Icon, S Moda, El País Semanal, Babelia and Buena Vida). How did that opportunity come about? How are they doing, almost a year later? 

We started working on app development for several customers when Adobe launched its first beta version of the app platform based on Indesign 5.5. I think it was 2010.

We knew that El País was talking with external providers to develop the app for their weekly magazine, so we went to them and said, ‘Listen, we can do it.’ We started working together to find the best solution to meet their expectations, and it was a success.

From the business point of view, we learned a lot from that experience. We started working on a paid-for model, and we ended up moving a to a free model, based on advertising.

La Factoría works for the most important companies in Spain, such as El Corte Inglés, Renfe and Banco Santander, as well as prominent international ones such as Netflix. What is your unique selling point that enables you to reach so many of the world’s largest brands?

Quality. That is the only key. It is important that we put value on quality content.

You also relaunched Tentaciones, one of the magazines from El País, to help it reach more millennials. What did you do to make it more attractive to a younger audience?

Tentaciones is a very special case, because it already had a strong brand. It is the name of a successful latest-trends supplement that El País launched in the early 1990s. It became an icon.

When we started to rethink the project, we found out that the name was still powerful. Many teenagers had memories of the brand, because it was the irreverent magazine that they used to find every weekend inside their parents’ newspaper and that their older brothers used to read.

As Borja Bass, the editor-in-chief who launched the new Tentaciones, says: ‘When Tentaciones was born in the 1990s, it was really disruptive. Nowadays, in a jungle of trends magazines, we had to come with something new, so we decided to guide our readers through the wave of trends, to be critical about what is cool and what is no longer cool. Our message was, “do not believe the hype”.’

We know you work with the latest technology, such as 360° for Renfe, to name just one example. What new technologies are you using or planning to use for your projects?

We are eager to try any new technology that we think might be interesting for storytelling, or efficient content strategies in any format. That is the only way to learn what works and what doesn’t.

In technology, we have to be as flexible as a start-up: try fast and try cheap. That allows us to stay up-to-date and to learn what the best platform is for each product or for each business model.

Virginia Lavín Amirola will speak at the Digital Media Europe Conference, 24-26 April in Copenhagen.

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