By Vikki Brightman, Head of Brand Partnerships at Somethin Else.
There is nothing new in the concept of brands funding the creation of content; from P&G creating ‘Soap Operas’ in the 50’s to the ‘Pepsi Chart show’ in the 90’s, branded content has existed in various guises for many years.
However, in recent times, the amount of Branded Content/AFP being produced has reached new heights and it has become the buzzword on the lips of most marketeers and media strategists.
As ever, the media landscape is constantly evolving and it can be a daunting
prospect for even the most experienced marketeer to invest significant amounts of budget on a solution led by branded content.
In these challenging times, brands are under increasing pressure to ensure their advertising is relevant, that the message stands out and engages with their target audience, and the subject of return on investment is never far from any conversation.
Alongside this, media agencies are also under the spotlight to deliver more innovative and compelling campaigns to help brands cut through the clutter.
Achieving any level of cut through is a huge challenge, even more so when set against the backdrop of our new multi-media landscape. Consumers have become extremely media savvy but, more importantly, they’re demanding brands to ‘talk’ to them in a certain way, matching their expectations and needs.
They expect brands to play a part in their world, but with this interaction happening at a time and place that suits them. Media consumption is reinventing itself daily and no longer is the question, how?
Now, the questions are where, when, and on what device, and brand engagement has become more about a consumer’s self-selection. Brands are quickly realizing that they need to engage their customers in different ways, embracing all available technology and new consumer habits.
Branded content can play a pivotal role in achieving this crucial cut through, whilst also gaining a deeper and more relevant relationship with a consumer, so long as it’s carefully considered and executed well.
If you can engageand entertain the audience via content, your brand will stand out and be counted. The key is to give the consumer something they want, that they are interested in or, better yet, something that can be used as social currency.
If an advertising message moves from interruption to attraction, it will, in turn, create a much more rewarding experience for the consumer. When considering branded content as part of your strategy, it is imperative that you find the right idea for your brand, as synergy & brand fit are fundamental.
Ensure the idea replicates your brand message and/or values without having to over-brand the content. The broadcaster is also key, so partner with a channel that best suits your brand for relevance, scale and values.
Get the broadcaster involved at the earliest point and use their skills and expertise to guide you on the commissioning journey. This also gives the broadcaster the opportunity to buy into the concept and, using their insights into the audience, mould it specifically for their viewers.
This reduces the risk of you developing an idea that the broadcaster would reject or, worse still, that wouldn’t resonate with your target audience.
Top tips for branded content success
1) Intend to create compelling content from the outset and create the
content with only the audience in mind. This sounds obvious but is
2) Think cross platform from the start, branded content is a key
part of the marketing plan and should be fully integrated into any
other planned activity.
3) Where relevant, agree ownership of rights and/or any IP upfront with the broadcaster and the production company, as this will enable you to exploit the content further, e.g. through international sales/merchandising. Any opportunity to recoup investment in this way will help to strengthen the ROI argument.
4) Establish in advance the objectives of the branded content and
agree what success would look like and how this would be measured.
5) Integrate any branding subtly and AFP in particular should never be considered as a long-form advert. The treatment should reflect the brand’s values, ethos and core message – if it does not, it may not be the right
6) Involve a broadcaster as early in the process as possible. Don’t spend huge sums of money on development unless you’re assured that the correct platform for your content is available.
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