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by Ignacio O’Mullony
6 min read
How Branded Content Could Increase Your Engagement And Revenue In 2021.
Author: Ignacio O’Mullony
Posted in Content Marketing 2 weeks ago
While branded content was elevated to the de facto content mode in 2020, 2021 promises to be the year when branded content will totally evolve into its own. Before 2020, branded content was viewed as a good marketing campaign add-on which was extremely effective when integrated into the traditional sponsored models. However, marketers and the world alike were able to see just how powerful branded content can be on its own as a strategic brand creation tool.
Given this raised status, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the most intelligent marketers are paying attention and pivoting to branded content.
The coronavirus pandemic forced people to consume more content digitally, especially as most countries initiated some form of lockdown. This extended stay at home caused by the pandemic created a behaviour shift which in turn accelerated several important trends. More so brands were able to gain access to a much larger and receptive audience than ever before.
Before 2020, customer habits were already being transformed due to the proliferation of smartphones. Smartphones could be used to read, listen, interact with and watch content. The increased volume of mobile applications and the creation of new content types to go with them highlight this. Brands, however, have been searching for new methods in which to engage customers and dial back the trend of decreasing engagements which live TV advertising suffered from.
These two trends have been substantially uplifted due to changes in behaviour brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer digital activity has grown exponentially, resulting in brands having a larger target audience to interact with online. This, in turn, has reinforced the increasingly important role branded content now plays in the entire advertising ecosystem. It is a role, has irreversibly and significantly changed, especially when you consider its previous place on the periphery of advertising.
There are a couple of lessons to be learnt from brands that have utilised branded content in the most effective manner. These lessons can help you understand how branded content will evolve further.
One of the lessons to consider is the mindset shift when it comes to content. Now, content has to be created in a manner that is not only organic but long-term. When the content is being created, you have to ensure that the message doesn’t get lost in a different format or platform. An example of this is the branded campaign by Ben & Jerry’s. The ’Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America’ campaign was recently launched, and it was a series of 6, 30-minute podcast episodes which talked about America’s white supremacy problem. The campaign was developed alongside Vox Media in a partnership.
Another example of creativity is the Pfizer SuperSimpleStuff app, which utilises some microgames in which players can fight the coronavirus whilst learning the most effective methods of preventing the virus from spreading. This is a great instance of creative content execution. This was also proof that effective branded content could include mediums other than video.
In a similar vein, Natwest launched a new educational game in 2020 called ‘Island Saver’, available on Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, IOS and Android. It is centred around two main themes, users play to clean up an island, of all of the plastic waste that has washed up, collecting and saving coins along the way. Whilst promoting important environmental issues, and educating kids on the core principles of money management, Natwest executed this incredibly with branded content throughout.
This means that brands need to change the way they think. Gone are the days when a static way of thinking could get attention. The best way to do this is to emulate social media entertainers. Rather than simply using a playbook full of marketing strategies, brands should move to create content by the rules which media companies and publishers hold themselves to.
Publishers completely understand the makeup of their target audience and then create a service or product that suits them. To create effective and meaningful branded content, marketing leads have to tow that line. The most effective of marketers completely understand what their brand is and the things it requires to grow.
The major aim would be to develop campaigns that rank as highly as the entertainment customers consume.
This lesson highlights the ever-increasing use of a creative newsroom to further branded content’s evolution. This approach is one that enables a brand to amalgamate brand marketing metrics alongside the events in pop culture and the world. The world is at a point where the millions of viewing hours and billions of daily views symbolise a massive opportunity for brands hoping to engage with their target customers online can be made possible.
One thing to remember when using a creative newsroom approach to develop video branded content is that there is no such thing as a one size fits all video. There are a plethora of sites and social media platforms which brands can use to increase their visibility. Every one of them has not only their own culture but also their own technology. This realisation has to be aligned with ensuring branded content is delivered in a timely and relevant manner that has been tailored to the viewing experiences of your target audience within that app.
What this means is that brands have to be able to seamlessly and quickly create, manage, and adapt their branded content across the plethora of rapidly changing social media platforms. It is also important that their website is not neglected as this is typically the first port of call for consumers looking to learn more about a brand.
Video is important given the results of a recently concluded study which polled over 5,000 consumers in the UK, Australia, the US, Germany and France. The results showed that almost half of them had actually concluded a purchase which was kick started by watching branded content on social media. 32% of them also stated that they had considered purchasing a product after the first interaction with a brand via branded content video.
While 2020 and the coronavirus began this shift or evolution of branded content, it does appear that brands are already keying into this new marketing frontier for 2021 and years to come. If you’re interested in how you can utilise branded content to grow your business, drop us a line to discuss!
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