However, marketers have also begun In a shift in tactics, applying their resources to create content to get their message across. A number of marketers are doing this now. Red Bull comes to mind as a great example as it syndicates its "extreme sport" athletes video endeavors across the Web.
To begin to develop a branded content strategy, I suggest the following process -- the "4 Es of content creation":
Engagement -- The content must first meet a consumer need or desire to get them interested in watching (research can help with understanding consumer content affinities for your audience). Then, and only then, the brand should be integrated in a compelling way that helps pay off the content promise while delivering on the brand promise.
Extension -- Scaling the content to get it in front of the right people. While having the content on the brand's Web site helps reach loyal users, to really make the content work, it needs to be syndicated broadly across the Web based on the audience's content affinities.
Execution -- Embed additional functionality to the video to build engagement with features like recipe prints for food marketers, or buy-it-now links for manufacturers or retailers. Then set up tools to measure the activation from those elements.
Efficiency -- Often the production and syndication costs can be significantly more efficient than a full-blown :30 commercial production. In some cases, a brand can even make a small cpm revenue share on that content.
The skill set of creating compelling branded content should be considered as an evolution both in how we look at advertising messages and how they are distributed versus a radical shift in strategy and capabilities. It will benefit all in the value chain: marketers, agencies, publishers -- and, most important, the consumer -- if we can work together to create branded content that is compelling for the consumer and delivers for the brand.