branded content

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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Branded Content Boosts Purchase Intent According to a Study by IPG and Google

High-quality branded content is effective at increasing brand favorability and intent to purchase according to a study conducted by IPG Media Lab and Google. This global study surveyed 14,780 consumers and included brands in 19 categories in 10 countries. Jon Lafayette’s article in Broadcasting and Cable provides some of the conclusions from this study.

Among these conclusions:

-The companies defined branded content as content that lives on its own, produced by and for the brand, as opposed to content produced by someone else that the brand affixes it to.

-Consumers found branded content more entertaining, uplifting, educational, novel and exciting than standard video ads.

-The study found that high-quality content led to a 10% greater increase in purchase intent, compared to lower quality content.

According to Kara Manatt, VP Consumer Research Strategy at the IPG Media Lab, “Our data indicates there are clear best practices marketers can take advantage of when creating and deploying branded content. Naturally, marketers spend more time and budget creating this custom content, so having these guidelines based on improving brand perceptions and driving purchase intent is invaluable.”

Among these guidelines:

-Mentioning the brand more often increased the perception that the content was designed to “sell a product,” but the information was still trusted.

-For high-price purchases, purchase intent was higher with more brand mentions.

-Placing content on a premium site can have a halo effect on brand preference and intent to purchase. The more consumers liked the site, the greater the impact the branded content had on those consumers.

IPG Media Labs and Google plan to continue studying branded content.

For more on this topic, check out the Advertising Tab in Morning Coffee.

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