Break through the advertising noise with branded content

15 March 2017 | By Werner Lindemann, Managing Director at Mediamark

Advertisers today face a growing challenge getting their message to consumers who multitask across multiple media and screens throughout the day and who are becoming increasingly impatient with advertising that interrupts their entertainment or search for information.

This trend is only going to grow as the first digital native generation joins the world of work and becomes the next generation of customers. What’s more, over the years to come, we’ll find more and more people turning to ad-free subscription services such as Netflix for some or even most of their media needs.

With consumers’ receptivity to traditional advertising formats in decline, the media industry needs to find new ways to engage with them. Increasingly, we’re seeing native advertising formats such as branded digital content and advertiser funded programming (AFP) emerge as compelling options.

AFP refers to TV programming that the brand shapes directly through its financial support, creative input, and marketing resources. The brand’s role in creating the content is integral – unlike a sponsorship where the brand simply pays to be associated with content that it doesn’t own or have a role in creating. We have worked with large international brands like Pick n Pay and Land Rover on AFP with great success.

Endless choices

When it comes to digital, the choices are endless – from straightforward advertorials and content sponsorships to long form and snackable videos (how-to, mobile videos, deep-dive expert reviews, etc.), social media (with opportunities for interactivity), and even branded lenses, filters and emojis for social networking tools. In future, the menu may expand to include new technologies such as live video, 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality.

For publishers and broadcasters, these formats offer powerful ways to monetise their audiences and add value for their advertisers. Even as brands focus on content marketing rather than traditional advertising, they benefit greatly from working with publishers, broadcasters and media sales houses.

Not only do they bring the audience and the platform, they also have the insight into what makes their viewers, readers and listeners tick and can be valuable creative and editorial resources. Using a combination of good old fashioned storytelling and advanced analytics, they can help brands target consumers with relevant and tailored marketing messages.

Embedded in the customer’s life

For brands, good branded content is a means to embed themselves deeper into consumers’ lives with content that they actually value and enjoy. Advertisers can invest in a platform they shape rather than getting involved in bidding wars for the few prime-time sponsorship and advertising opportunities on television or the prime inventory on a custom published website.

They can also align their content with their marketing cycle rather than hoping for an appropriate sponsorship opportunity to come up when they need to promote a new product or launch a campaign. They can create deeper brand experiences for their viewers than they could with a sponsor’s message or a short ad.

Lifting brand perceptions

What’s more, consumers trust and enjoy native ads more than they do traditional ads, provided the production value is good and the content relevant and useful.

A Nielsen analysis in the US shows that branded content generates an average of 86% brand recall among viewers compared with 65% from pre-roll ads. It also reveals that the lift in brand perceptions is higher for branded content across metrics such as affinity, purchase intent and recommendation intent.

Of course, creating great content isn’t simple and it can represent a significant investment of time and money. The quality of native advertising, AFP and custom publishing will need to improve if brands want to successfully compete with other content providers for the consumer’s attention.

That will demand that brands forge close partnerships with media sales houses, agencies and media owners to create and execute campaigns that break through the clutter.

Data will also become more important as CEOs demand to see the ROI for marketing efforts. There will be more emphasis on gathering and analysing data that helps brands to understand their audiences and target consumers with more relevant and tailored marketing messages.

It is an exciting time for the industry, with scope to be more creative and to engage with consumers in an inventive manner. We’re seeing a shift from the controlled, traditional advertising of the past to a more dynamic multi screen world that offers compelling new ways to tell brand stories and create customer experiences.

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