Branded Content Advertising Spend At All Time High

According to the 2011 “Spending Study” conducted by the Custom Content Council in partnership with ContentWise, the total spend on branded content rebounded significantly in 2011 to $1,914,000 among the 100 top US corporate marketers, the highest level ever. Further cementing growth in 2012, says the report, 16% of marketers reported that their companies are shifting aggressively from traditional marketing into branded content.

The biggest driver of growth from 2010 to 2011 was in publication budgets, which increased by 68%. According to the study, 26% of the overall marketing spend was allocated to branded content and 30% of respondents felt their branded content budgets would rise again in 2012.  Respondents were most bullish on growth in:

  • Electronic content (39%)
  • Other forms (37%)
  • Print (16%)

The number one reason for using branded content remains the same: educate customers. Retention was the second leading reason. Though it made some modest gains, up-selling customers was ranked as a low priority, indicating that in the minds of marketers branded content is viewed as a long-term investment rather than transactional.

Reasons For Using Branded Content (2011 Primary Report; % of Respondents)

Reason For Using

% of Respondents

Customer retention


Up-sell customers


Brand loyalty


Educate customers




Source: Spending Study, CustomContentCouncil, November 2011

Lori Rosen, Executive Director, Custom Content Council, says “... a year of cautious, but steady growth in the custom content market... with branded content emerging as a leading driver for marketers of all sizes... “

Among corporate marketers, branded-content initiatives are considered more effective than other leading forms of advertising and marketing, saying that branded content is more effective than public relations, direct mail, and magazine ads.

Effectiveness of Branded Content (% of Respondents)


More Effective

Less Effective

Ad in magazine



Ad on TV



Direct mail



Public relations



Source: Spending Study, CustomContentCouncil, November 2011

The Custom Content Council Spending Study also found:

  • Personnel spending takes the largest percentage of budget funds at 54%
  • The average spending for print content is $482,000 on personnel (48%), $341,000 on production (34%), and $181,000 on distribution (18%).
  • The average spending for electronic content is $275,000 on personnel (61%), $113,000 on production/programming (25%), and $63,000 on distribution (14%).
  • For all companies (those who did and did not outsource), the average total branded content spend on outsourcing was $324,000—the highest amount ever recorded.
  • The average spend among those companies that did outsource (thus excluding those who did not outsource), was $783,000 versus a previous high of $885,646 in 2009.

The use of services of external agencies (such as custom publishers, PR/marketing firms, design firms, video production companies, or interactive agencies) to handle some aspect of branded content initiatives remains consistent at around 50%.

Outsourcing was more prevalent among print forms (51%) of branded content, than it was among electronic (31%) or other forms (35%). Of all the branded content initiatives, 39% involved external agencies.

For the survey, branded content (custom media, custom content, and custom publishing) is defined as the creation and distribution of educational and or/compelling content in multiple formats to attract, educate, up-sell, and/or retain customers. 

For more information from the Custom Content Council, please visit here.





1 comment about "Branded Content Advertising Spend At All Time High".
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  1. Karl House from DECA, January 5, 2012 at 3:41 p.m.

    Very promising. We're seeing the same thing - a large increase in interest from top marketers in creating original, branded content.

    However, DECA, by itself did far beyond the $1.9MM figure you provided with the top 100 marketers last year (as did a few of our competitors), so the spend estimate seems to be largely undervaluing the market.

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