Branded Entertainment Offers TV Ad Bonanza

The frequency of branded entertainment on TV apparently has a promising future. "It's as far as the viewer will allow you to go," says Linda Yaccarino, EVP/GM of Turner Entertainment Advertising Sales and Marketing, speaking at a branded entertainment panel at MediaPost's Outfront conference last week in New York. "Viewers have a certain level of tolerance."

She says such acceptance applies to any new brand entertainment efforts Turner puts on its networks, including on-screen lower promotional messages, such as one for TBS' "The Bill Engvall Show," sponsored by Miracle Whip. These messages run during TBS shows.

Indeed, findings from IAG Research, which is used by media companies to measure branded-entertainment effectiveness, indicate there is little to no negative feedback when it comes to branded-entertainment efforts.

No wonder that some companies want to raise the bar. Bravo, for example, wants to take up 20% of the TV screen with something it calls the "L Bar." Placing marketers' information on the bottom and the side of the screen--thus making an L--Bravo hopes to expand what it can offer advertisers.



"We're an advertising network--we are not a pay TV service," says Kevin McAuliffe, SVP/branded-entertainment group for NBC Universal Television Group. But it isn't just advertising. "There is going to be a content play here. There is going to be a balance."

Bravo is not the first network to alter the screen; sports channels have been adding marketing content to TV screens for some time. ESPN's "SportsCenter," for example, runs content and marketing on the sides of its screen.

One would think there are limitations, but it depends on a viewers' involvement with a show. "The passionate fan of any show can't get enough," says Bill Morningstar, EVP/advertising sales for the CW, who has worked on a host of new initiatives.

NBC's McAuliffe is honest to call branded entertainment what it is. "Brand entertainment is a disruptive technology," he says, one that brings no end of potential ideas. "We don't have enough time to have all the conversations."

"At some point, it becomes all clutter," warns Laura Caraccioli-Davis, EVP/entertainment director for Starcom USA. "We have to be really careful."

Major differences exist for branded entertainment with different media platforms. Cable networks do seem to do more deals. "They are more apt to shill their shows, says Caraccioli-Davis. "Maybe cable networks are not all that protective of [their programs]."

Standard measuring tools for branded deals? Calculating effectiveness of branded entertainment is still examined on a marketer-by-marketer basis.

"No two deals are alike," says Morningstar. "We treat our shows like the marketers do--as brands. What we are looking for is whether there is a natural connection."

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