Many marketers have long held the assumption that branded content performs better than standard ad units. A just-released study from Nielsen bolsters this belief in the video arena. The research giant studied more than 100 pieces of branded content, such as online video series as well as product integrations within a TV show. Nielsen reports that brand recall and brand lift are usually higher with branded content than pre-roll ads. These findings can be helpful, especially as ad blocker use continues to rise.
Indeed, ad blocking has emerged as a potent threat in the media business. In 2015, more than 198 million consumers around the world were active users of ad blockers. That statistic comes from PageFair, a technology and analytics company that tracked ad blocking at a 41% global growth rate. Ad blocking technology cost publishers nearly $22 billion in 2015, and the use of it grew by 48% in the U.S. that same year. Savvy consumers are also blocking ads on their phones. PageFair found in a study this year that 22% of the world’s nearly 2 billon smartphone users are blocking ads on their mobile devices.
Branded content can’t be blocked, because it’s part of the video. In its study, Nielsen compared the same brand when marketed in branded content versus pre-roll ads. The branded content garnered about 86% recall among viewers, higher than the 65% rate for pre-roll ads. Nielsen reports that affinity, purchase intent and recommendation intent were also higher for branded content.
In order to drive this sort of recall, the branded content needs to follow some best practices. Brands should seek a strong personality, a unique and original concept, a connection with the audience, and an appropriate tie-in between the brand and the content, Nielsen advised.
In addition, marketers can benefit when working with a publisher. It may be tempting to simply slap branded content on one’s own Web site, but the results may be better with a partner. Brand lift is often 50% higher on publisher sites.