Content is playing an increasingly important role in the Golden State Warriors’ sponsorship offering.

Looking to satisfy sponsors’ growing appetite for content, the NBA team is serving up two types of digital content: branded content and sponsored content.

“Digital content is becoming increasingly important. We have more than 22 million engaged fans absorbing Warriors content—that’s a big asset and a big marketing platform sponsors are interested in,” said John Peirano, Golden State Warriors’ senior director of partnership development.

Content is one of the most important benefits properties can offer sponsors, according to the 2016 IEG/ESP Properties Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey. Roughly one-quarter of sponsors rate the benefit a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale of value, ranking it the seventh most valuable sponsorship benefit.

Rightsholders also can use digital content for their own marketing objectives. That can range from building a team’s brand on the global stage to acquiring new millennial fans—a demographic increasingly interested in short-form content delivered via mobile devices.

So how does one define content?

Jeremy Thum, Golden State Warriors’ senior director of digital experience, defines digital content as anything that adds value to a fan’s day or life.

But sponsor integration is where it gets tricky. The challenge: balancing the need to add value to the fan experience while also supporting a brand’s marketing objectives.

“We as a news publisher are challenged with coming up with things that will stick out as entertaining, engaging, newsworthy and insightful. It becomes a challenge creating something that provides value to our fans as well as our sponsors.”

The Warriors integrate sponsors into branded content and sponsored content, each of which comes with its own advantages and challenges.

Below, a look at the two types of content.

Branded content. The Warriors create branded content exclusively for sponsors. The content is developed in conjunction with the partner in support of their specific marketing objectives.

Case in point: The Warriors recently wrapped a digital video series for BMW and the automaker’s I Series electric vehicles. The “Go Green with Klay Thompson” videos featured the shooting guard riding in an I Series vehicle talking about key moments in his career, ways to become environmentally friendly and other topics.

The Warriors supported the video series with outtakes from the video shoots. The additional content helped promote the BMW message while providing fans a peek into the athlete’s personality, said Peirano.

The Warriors created the video series based in part on lessons learned from a similar content play for BMW in the 2015-2016 season. The BMW Go Green videos featured power forward Draymond Green and an environmental specialist visiting the home of a season ticket holder where they offered suggestions on how to make the home more earth friendly.

While the videos featured product integration and an overarching green message, the Warriors tweaked the series in year two by offering more information on how the vehicles are environmentally friendly. The team also leveraged Thompson’s popularity to create deeper fan engagement across its social and digital channels.

Testing and learning play a key role in the content strategy, said Peirano.

“At the end of the day, it’s a new frontier. We’re trying to strike a balance with what’s good for our partners and good for us.”

The Warriors and BMW each distributed the videos through their own social channels. While BMW was prohibited from distributing the content beyond a 150-mile radius from Oakland, Calif. due to the NBA’s geographic boundary rules, the automaker got around the restriction by retweeting and reposting content distributed through the team’s social and digital channels.

Sponsored content. While the Warriors use branded content to support a sponsor’s specific marketing objectives, the team uses sponsored content to provide impressions via an affiliation with existing content (post-game highlight reels, etc.).

The affiliation is typically limited to a sponsor’s watermark on videos and other content.

The Warriors try to align sponsors with content where there is a natural affinity with the company’s products and/or services. For example, JBL (audio electronics company) has sponsored the “Sounds of the Game” music-centric highlight reel.

As an impression-based platform, sponsored content should be approached as one asset in a sponsor’s overall marketing package, said Thum, noting that the Warriors would not typically offer the benefit as a sole sponsor execution.

“Sponsored content works best as part of a bigger sponsorship package. It’s one tool in the toolbox of the mix of assets a partner can capitalize on.”

The team is placing more focus on determining the value of sponsored content by measuring impressions and engagements (likes, comments, shares, etc.) both with and without sponsor logos, said Peirano.

“We’re trying to learn how much a sponsor logo impacts engagement. Are they viewing it for the same duration with and without a sponsor logo?”

The team measures the success of branded content based on the marketing objectives defined at the beginning of a relationship.

“Branded content is best for brand awareness, brand association and, if you do it really well, PR buzz,” said Thum.

The Warriors are working with GumGum and Rebel Ventures to assign a media value to sponsor integration in branded and sponsored content.