I came across an interesting statistic the other day. And when I say “interesting,” I don’t mean it in the traditional, “I’m intrigued” sense, but rather in the “what is going on here?” sense. According to a study by the Association of National Advertisers, nearly two-thirds of client-side advertisers (63%) are planning branded entertainment strategies for 2012. The most popular channels for branded entertainment include commercial television, the Internet and sporting events, although Internet strategies are growing at the fastest clip by far, and television is trending downward.
The objectives marketers are trying to achieve with these are what you might expect: making a stronger connection with consumers; aligning the brand with relevant content; and building brand affinity with a desired audience.
But here’s where things get a little funny. And by funny I mean strange, not “hah-hah.” The study notes that while investment in branded entertainment has grown considerably since 2006, marketers haven’t made much headway in measuring the return on their branded entertainment investments.
I’m sorry, but in my experience, it’s been pretty to easy to measure when branded online video pays off. Our online video library for one major food brand, for example, has received more 70 million views via more than 1,500 URLs, making it arguably one of the most successful online video marketing campaigns waged by a big brand to date. The videos rank an average engagement level of 78 -- and three years after the campaign launch, the videos are still dominating organic search. The ANA survey says that 63% of respondents still find it “challenging” to measure the effect of these branded activities, but I’d say the impact of 70 million views is blatantly obvious.
I think the reason marketers are still finding ROI difficult to measure is because, for the vast majority, the result just aren’t there. They’re not there because most marketers are focused on using online video for branded entertainment. And by and large, branded entertainment has meant repurposing commercials for the Web. I have no issue with the fine work advertisers do. Many of these online commercials and “webisodes” are extremely well done. A lot of them are highly entertaining. But are they what consumers are searching for? Not really.
Our research has shown that consumers are not typing brand names into Google to download commercials to their PCs. They’re searching for information. Through our research for a large electronics company, we learned that consumers weren’t searching for information about how to choose a camera, but were searching for information on how to use one to take pictures of babies, weddings, kids, etc. That insight was invaluable in crafting our branded online video strategy for the company, which focused on providing consumers with information on how to take the best pictures -- using their brand of cameras, of course -- rather than a commercial about which of their cameras consumers can buy.
The funny thing about branded entertainment -- and by funny, I don’t mean “Roller Babies” -- is that it’s not being searched for online. Consumers aren’t looking to brands for entertainment; they download movies or TV shows for that. What some major brands have realized is that information is much more valuable to consumers than entertainment, and brands have a huge opportunity to own branded information. Hopefully marketers for other brands are starting to realize that while branded information may not make it to “Tosh.O,” it can do wonders for engagement.