Branded Entertainment In 2015: Where Does It Go From Here?

Branded entertainment deals will still be a part of the process for TV networks and stations, even as analysts continue to moan about the growing blur between “content” and marketing -- in all kinds of media.  Still, for many ad executives, there are positives despite a general waning among viewership of reality TV, which has been a major area for branded entertainment in the last two decades.

One of the longest-running TV shows, CBS’ “Survivor” series has been a major proponent of branded entertainment since it started in late May 2000. And a plethora of other highly rated TV reality shows still bring marketers big attention, including NBC’s “The Voice.”

In recent years there has been the rise of similar digital marketing content, with the “native” ad trend. Digital platform executives say users desire this content, with specific “stories” labeled as “sponsored” content, at least from those more honorable publishers.



And now, hard-pressed TV stations may look to join this movement toward content on the edge.

“The whole idea is to keep it up in the air,” John Carroll, professor of mass communications at Boston University, told the Boston Globe, about branded content on a local Boston station, WSBK-TV. Carroll says the goal is for TV consumers to ask “What exactly is this?”  

So “confusion” might be OK as long as one can keep viewer interest.

Even when research shows TV consumers have an awareness of the marketing machinations around branded entertainment, it doesn’t mean they’ll turn off a TV show because of that association.

Multitasking, distracted TV viewers may just muddy the waters. For branded entertainment, TV media sellers will continue to count on more viewer apathy.

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