What exactly is branded content?
Branded content, in most cases, are inimitable and has a strategy that differs from traditional advertising. Traditional marketing works by featuring a benefit or USP to tell the product’s story. Reverse this process and you get branded content – streamlining a product/service/brand into a storyline that could be in any form and across different platforms. These could be content produced for film, television, published articles, radio, web and etc.
Branded content are being heavily used today due to one reason – Clutter. Consumers are constantly bombarded with too many ads, and many are now desensitised towards sponsored messages. In fact, many channels and platforms such as payTV, or Spotify, offer ads-free options to their audience. To cut through the clutter, and waltz in straight to consumers’ hearts, branded content offers entertainment value and consumers will unthinkingly let their guards down.
The Lego Movie had a touching storyline which audiences genuinely enjoyed. But at the end of the day, we understood it to be a movie backed by Lego. Some audience viewed it as a 90-minute Lego commercial while others could ‘forget the endorsement’ and still see it as a fun movie.
And if you haven’t heard, Martin Scorsese will be casting Leonardo Di Carpio and Robert De Niro together on-screen for his latest short film, The Audition. At this point, we know you’re hooked. One of Hollywood’s biggest directors, doing a movie with two megastars? No way! BUT catch this, it’s also fancy advertising for two major casino resorts – the City of Dreams Manila, Philippines and Studio City Macao in China. The film will be completely shot at these two places, with major funding from the Melco Crown Entertainment brand.
So what can we make of this?
Blurring the lines between advertising and editorial
The obvious thing here is branded content blurs the lines between marketing content and editorial (or organic) content which makes it harder and more complicated for audiences to discern between the two. What we also gathered is that marketing content totally works with better top-of-the-head recall when it comes to associating brands and experiences.
If you left the theatre enjoying The Lego Movie, you’re bound to have connected with the brand positively. From a marketer’s perspective, this is a +1 in influence points. And nothing delights marketers more than having their brand been worth your time. Forbes (citing a Forrester report) sums it up succinctly, “[branded content] is designed to build brand consideration and affinity, not sell a product or service.”
Seamless content that does not interrupt
We are again highlighting this – audiences are smarter than any time of history. We switch channels whenever we want to, know when to tune-out a commercial and we trust advertising less than ever. Thus, the workaround solution seems to be branded content. Branded content marketing also known as non-interruption marketing or native ads blends seamlessly into what audiences are already watching, listening or reading.
Here, we take into account ‘sponsored or suggested’ posts on Facebook or Twitter which appears as part of the target audience’s newsfeed. These posts are hard to overlook because they are already recommended to us. Interestingly, research from IPG Media lab reveals that native ads are viewed the same amount of time as editorial content and are quite likely to be shared which suggests that streamlined posts do work for social media and web content.
Consider also popular website Buzzfeed that has 150 million average monthly viewers and earns most of its revenue through branded content. Buzzfeed’s ad content is not unlike its organic content which means that people will be accessing, reading and enjoying these articles. The list-style formatting, tone and manner of both branded and sponsored articles are similar across the board.
Blending in on the frontpage…
Sponsored content that will actually entice readers
Self-selected content over push communications
What marketers leverage on when crafting brand content is that consumers/audiences trust self-selected content more than push communications. Felix Salmon, in an article for Reuters, writes: “it’s much easier to drop your message into a stream which people are reading anyway than it is to try to persuade those people to stop what they’re doing elsewhere and read your message instead.”
With advertisements growing more saturated than ever, we’re looking at a generation of audience that can afford to pick and choose the kind of advertising messages they want to hear. This explains the appeal of branded content strategies as it acts like organic content. Branded content speaks a language that consumers are receptive to.
What is Content Marketing?- contentmarketinginstitute.com
WTF is branded Content? It’s complicated, Oct 23 2014, contagious.com
Felix Salmon, April 15 2013, The native matrix
Felix Salmon, April 9 2013, The disruptive potential of native advertising