In the pantheon of popular buzzwords of 2013, “branded content” might very well have already staked its claim at the top. Sure, there’s “second-screen” giving it a run for its money, as well as “mobile-social” and “cross-platform measurement.” But brands, publishers and technologists seem most intrigued with branded content, and, in turn, branded video.
However, branded content both bedevils and excites advertisers, and with good reason. On the plus side, it gives marketers control of what they produce, where it runs, and the pricing. Then, there’s the allure of “owning” the audience, whether that audience is comprised of YouTube subscribers, Facebook fans, or Twitter followers.
But there are challenges, too. Brands and publishers aren’t entirely sure yet how much branded content their consumers want from them and how much fan interaction they should engage in. Other issues include developing the right social or mobile strategy to work in tandem with branded content, and determining whether the content should be created in-house, with outside experts, or with agencies. Once a brand or publisher hammers out a branded video strategy, marketers then face the same issues they’ve always faced: how to drive consumers to view the videos, whether through paid media or other means. Just because you start making marketing the message doesn’t obviate the need to, well, market it.
Sometimes branded videos are closely tied to an advertiser. A classic example is A&E’s “Fix this Kitchen,” which incorporates Ikea into the makeover show. Then there are examples such as Condé Nast Entertainment’s newest foray announced this week. The media giant is launching a digital video network featuring premium branded programming inspired by its magazine brands Glamour and GQ that will be syndicated across the Web, digital devices and YouTube.
Is that branded content? Or simply a new form of what a brand has already been doing? Perhaps both. “The creation of this digital network and the distribution of its programming across multiple platforms will extend the reach of the legendary Condé Nast brands to a broader audience,” Conde Nast said in a statement. The series will be sponsored exclusively by Procter & Gamble, Microsoft and Mondelz International, but that doesn’t mean the videos will merely be promos for the marketers thoughs. The shows will touch on core topics for the magazine brands, such as fashion and fitness.
Look for more publishers trying their hands at branded video of different shapes and sizes. In anticipation of the growth in this area, video recommendation service Taboola has said it plans to roll out a recommendation engine this year for branded content. Marketers are turning to branded content to tell stories, but then they need to apply the same rigor to driving ROI, whether in comments, views, visitors or even subscribers to their videos, Taboola has said.
With so many brands becoming producers, the takeaway is that the marketing approach to owned content isn’t that different from any other product you’re selling. You still need to find the practical, tactical means to drive consumers to your branded content so they can buy your products and services.