About Ashley Martin
Today, we speak with Ashley Martin, the interim Head of Brand Sales at Wattpad. Ashley has been at Wattpad for eight years and has dedicated herself to developing different custom programs for brands to use when working with Gen Z creators.
She shares, “In this role, I have the privilege of working with some of the biggest brands around the world, like Maybelline and Southwest Airlines and Amazon Prime Video, and I’m able to work with them to build custom programs that allow them to really share their stories with the world in meaningful ways.”
Before Wattpad, she worked on the agency side of the industry for nearly a decade. She has experience in an extensive number of roles, including social media, media planning, and account management. However, her passion is in building integrated programs that allow brands to work with their target audience rather than just market their products to the audience.
What is Wattpad?
Wattpad is a multi-platform entertainment company and a leading social storytelling platform. They have a community of people that spend over 23 billion minutes monthly reading original stories and web novels on the platform.
A web novel is a novel that is originally published online. Ashley notes that web novels are a massive global category that millions of people around the world read. Web novels also include eBooks, interactive storytelling mediums, and audiobooks.
Ashley adds, “Web novels are part of the evolution of reading and writing. We have a community of close to 90 million people who come to Wattpad to discover stories and share stories from things like science fiction to romance and kind of everything in between. We’ve really created what we like to call a storytelling technology platform. This platform has really redefined the way that the world reads and shares fiction.”
Wattpad has created massive changes in the world for writers and readers.
“For authors, we’ve democratized the publishing landscape, and we’ve helped writers from all around the world build audiences and make money while doing it. For readers, Wattpad is kind of like the world’s biggest indie bookstore and book club.”
On the app, people can connect and share stories as well as start engaging discussions around what they’ve been reading. Reading no longer needs to be a solitary experience with Wattpad.
Wattpad is free to sign up for and allows you to create your own profile. From there, you can start to read, write, and explore the app.
Working with Brands to Tell Meaningful Stories
Wattpad offers a unique and powerful platform and has developed a loyal and diverse community of writers and readers, many of who are socially conscious.
Ashley shares, “They’re [Wattpad users] passionate about the issues they care about, and brands have recognized that there are tremendous opportunities to showcase their values on our platform, not just marketing to Gen Z, but really working with Gen Z to tell meaningful stories that can really change the world and change our community’s view on what an advertiser values.”
Many Gen Z users post long-form, positive stories on Wattpad.
“Storytelling is incredibly important because it allows a brand or an advertiser to demonstrate their values and speak to what’s really important to them. For example, we worked with Maybelline earlier this year. This is actually our second year working with them, and we ran a program during Mental Health Awareness Month in May.”
The Maybelline Campaign
Ashley explains, “We hosted a series of weekly writing prompts for our community to get engaged with. We invited our writers to share short stories centered around self-care and showing support to others. Writing prompts like sharing some words of kindness. How have you faced your fears? Things like that and for every story that was submitted to this program, we donated $1 to support mental health initiatives.”
The Maybelline campaign was wildly successful, with over 57,000 reads, 44 million total impressions, and $40,000 in donations raised.
The campaign also enlisted six popular Wattpad creators, including @emilylinden, @knightsrachel, and @unfortunatelysky. These creators shared their real-life experiences with mental health and encouraged readers to participate in the campaign and write-a-thons.
The campaign also drove over 1,100 clicks to Wattpad’s non-profit organization partners, including The Loveland Foundation, The Jed Foundation, Sad Girls Club, and The Ali Forney Center. The Wattpad community received this campaign positively and expressed gratitude to Maybelline and Wattpad for creating safe and healthy conversations around mental health topics.
“These are just some of the ways that brands can really deeply immerse themselves in our audience and work with our creators and our community.”
Gen Z audiences spend less time watching TV and traditional media outlets than previous generations.
Ashley shares, “They have a second screen experience that they’re constantly looking at their phone while something else is on in the background, and those trends aren’t going away. So, we have really harnessed the power of long-form storytelling. Our community comes to Wattpad, and they spend on average 60 minutes every single day, deeply immersed in our content and in our stories.”
The ability to hold Gen Z’s attention with impactful storytelling is not lost on advertisers, who are looking to maintain similar levels of engagement and attention.
The Creator Marketplace
One of the things that Ashley feels is missing in the creator marketplace is more creators making a living for themselves doing what they love.
“On Wattpad, we are working very hard to make sure that our creators are consistently earning a living and being able to share their stories and get paid while doing it.”
Ashely shares that Wattpad is “really focused on being a top destination and a leading web novel platform. We want to continue to bring more brands to our community and allow our creators to continue to work with top brands and find new and exciting opportunities for them [and] for brands really to work with Gen Z audiences, rather than just to market to them.”
In addition, Ashley is currently working with Southwest Airlines, an ongoing brand partner of Wattpad’s, on an exciting writing content to mark Southwest’s 50th anniversary.
“The writing content asked aspiring and avid writers to share stories of fiction or nonfiction about kindness rooted in travel, so the contest generated hundreds of entries, lots of original cool content for Southwest. Now, we’re actually transforming one of those winning submissions into a short film for the winning story. We’re really excited to be working with Southwest to support this program.”