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Deconstructing Branded Content

Jess Halter – Senior Research Analyst, IPG Media Lab

Kara Manatt – VP, Consumer Research Strategy, IPG Media Lab

Branded content is very effective, and it’s even more effective than traditional video ads. They looked at the best practices for creating branded content and deploying it. They worked with 50 brands across 19 industry verticals. “We surveyed 14,780 people to learn what branded content is across the globe, how to deploy it, and what to take into account when creating it.”

The first thing they needed to do was come up with a working definition of branded content: “content that lives on its own, produced by and for the brand, as opposed to content produced by someone else than the brand affixes itself to.”

They recruited participants in 10 different countries and randomized them into a single test cell.

  • Control (stand-alone content with no brand mentions)
  • Standard Video ad
  • Branded content

“We conducted a broad and deep test,” said Manatt. First they wondered, “Do consumers even know the difference between branded content and traditional video ads?”

They created a Content Marketing Score. Participants were asked to rate the video (scored 13%). People see branded content differently—and consider it to be less a form of traditional advertising than traditional video ads. This was a prevailing attitude in Asia, Europe, and Latin America but not the Middle East.

How is branded content different?

Both standard video ads and branded content were considered marketing, but branded content was viewed differently and seen as more entertaining, uplifting, educational, novel and exciting.

Consumers view branded content differently from traditional marketing, and are more likely to characterize branded content in one of the many forms it can take, such as a how-to video, a sponsored show, a brand promotion or entertainment.

How do you optimize branded content?

Branded content was created with the consumer mind-set and provides what consumers want and need to hear. “When you’re providing education to consumers,” said Manatt, “it also makes them think more favorably about your brand.”

How branded content is perceived by country:

  • Europe: Provide relevant information
  • Asia: All about exciting content
  • Latin American: Inform with humor
  • Middle East: Difficult to move purchase intent. It’s a less mature market.

Their advice? “Make that connection with your brand really strong.” Even though content with high branding was perceived as a product pitch, it was still considered more informative and equally trustworthy. Branded content inspired a level of trust.

They encouraged brands to try a lot of different strategies:

  1. Spend the extra money to make high quality content—it’s worth it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to incorporate branding, especially for high consideration brands.
  3. Branded content is more than providing entertainment. Provide valuable information to your consumers.
  4. Location, location, location. Place content on premium sites.

 

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