AEDC inks $800K native advertising deal with Inc. Magazine

The Amarillo Economic Development Corp. and a group of community partners will pay $800,000 to publish 15 native advertising articles in Inc. Magazine over the next two years with the intent of drawing more recognition and outside businesses to the Texas Panhandle.

 

Inc. Magazine is a monthly business and entrepreneurship magazine with a print circulation of 745,165 as of June 30, 2016, per the Alliance on Audited Media, and website traffic of 17 million unique visitors per month.

Amarillo National Bank, Amarillo College, West Texas A&M University, the WTAMU Enterprise Center, Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will each chip in $50,000 for the campaign.

AEDC, which is funded by a half-cent sales tax earmarked for economic development, will contribute $500,000 over two years. President/CEO Barry Albrecht said the AEDC spent $450,000 to $500,000 annually on marketing in years past and has now cut out traditional advertising in industry magazines to keep its books balanced.

“We’ve revamped our whole marketing plan to embrace this,” Albrecht said. “This will give us more return on investment than anything we’ve done in the past.”

The contract guarantees 15 articles, including five highlighting industry trends, with an Amarillo connection. Inc. will also publish five infographics, three tip sheets, three videos, three LinkedIn posts and six Twitter posts related to Amarillo over the next two years.

The October 2017 issue of Inc. is tentatively scheduled to include a six-page section on Amarillo’s economy, and the AEDC will receive 20,000 copies to distribute as it sees fit.

The AEDC will proofread all publications and ensure the message is “on-brand.” Inc. will then label all stories as “AmarilloView” to show the economic development corporation had editorial oversight.

AEDC leaders have taken a more active role in determining their content than counterparts in Chicago or Kansas City, Inc. Editor-In-Chief/President Eric Schurenberg said.

“This is native content, so they control their message and we offer editorial advice about how to get the most traffic to it and tell the story most efficient,” Schurenberg said. “But are we reporting this like we would report an editorial story, trying to have an indifferent point of view? The answer is no.”

“This is Amarillo’s message to the world. We’re just helping tell it.”

Planned articles over the two-year period will feature Palace Coffee co-owners Patrick and Krystal Burns, Bell Helicopter General Manager Shannon Massey and Confluence Security Group CEO Jake Brecheen.

“The value of this is going to be seen for 20 years down the road,” Albrecht said. “The exposure that we’re going to get to be able to provide very key messages about our story to a global platform — it’s going to be almost unmeasurable.”

Amarillo will also be considered a bronze sponsor at the Inc. 5000 conference this October in Palm Springs, Calif., ensuring the AEDC and its partners a 100-square foot exhibit space, 10 conference passes and free advertising throughout the conference. The same treatment will be applied at Inc. 5000 in 2018 in San Antonio.

“They’ve invested a lot in this because they see it as a game-changer for the entire industry,” AEDC Director of Marketing & Communications Reagan Hales said.

The AEDC and Inc. representatives unveiled blown-up, mock magazine covers to 200 at an exclusive dinner Friday.

Both parties retain the right to terminate the contract; however, AEDC will be required to pay out the contract if it backs out prior to February 28, 2018.

AEDC, a Type A corporation, is expected to receive $19 million from the half-cent sales tax this year.

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