Branded content is a hot topic of conversation in the digital age. According to a report from HubSpot, which surveyed 3,010 consumers age 18 and older in Colombia, Germany, Mexico, and the United States, half of consumers age 54 and younger want to see more videos from brands they support. Additionally, some 47% of consumers age 55+ want to see more videos from brands they support.
According to another study conducted by Time Inc, which surveyed 17,000 people across three major age demographics (Gen X, millennials and Gen Z), 90% of respondents like the idea of custom content as a way for brands to engage with them, and 89% of people believe that type of content is a great way for brands to break through the rest of the clutter online.
In this week’s “5 Questions with..” Oath’s Courtney McKlveen, Tastemade’s Andrew Saunders and Melissa Drucker, and Select Management Group’s Jake Webb shed light on the subject and explain what works in the space, what doesn’t, and what trends they see on the rise.
Courtney McKlveen, Head of US Field Sales, Oath
VideoInk: What are the main ingredients found in a successful branded video? And what should creators stay away from when producing one?
Courtney McKlveen: Branded video is top of mind for many marketers! At Oath, we recently announced RYOT Studio as our global creative studio for brands and agencies. It’s safe to say that with continued mobile growth, advertisers will bet on content marketing in the year ahead to successfully build their brands. RYOT Studio now has a presence in 14 countries across five continents, with a content marketing solution that brings brands’ stories to life through branded video and other innovative formats. Our award-winning team has worked on campaigns for major brands around the world like Jack Daniel’s, Sleep Number and more.
First, lean in to data. Consumers today have higher expectations for advertising than ever before: branded video content needs to be relevant, meaningful, educational or useful in some way for it to resonate. Marketers now have access to many different data signals–ranging from search behavior to content consumption patterns–which makes it not only possible but imperative to deliver a more relevant ad experience. Leveraging data to inform the strategy for your branded video content and ensuring it’s what your target audience is looking for will help you reach the right consumers at the right time.
Next, brands need to ensure they are thinking cross-screen. Consumers are always one-the-go, and they’re often watching content on multiple devices, starting on their desktops, and then moving to tablets and mobile phones. Creating a consistent message across screens ensures you’re reaching consumers through multiple touch points.
Finally, establish an emotional connection. The ability to successfully connect with a consumer is the holy grail of digital engagement, and research shows that consumers want content and ads that drive emotion. If you’re looking to increase brand familiarity, consider ads with a comedic, witty tone. For brand affinity, try something that tugs at their heart strings, and to drive purchases, informational ads are the most effective.
Melissa Drucker, Head of Sales and Brand Partnerships, Tastemade
VideoInk: Branded entertainment has had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day it’s still a meaningful way of funding formats and a crucial component of a company’s programming mix. How does Tastemade approach creating branded that isn’t in-your-face but still achieves everyone’s branding goals?
Melissa Drucker: Tastemade focuses on best-in-class storytelling, which hinges on authenticity and conveying the identity and values of a brand over blatant promotion. As a result, I think we’ve been pretty successful at inspiring, entertaining and making valuable connections with our audience who has come to expect quality programming without heavy-handed brand integration. Our partners have also learned to trust us to deliver this across leading platforms. A good example is our success with Uncharted, presented by L.L. Bean. The promotion was quite subtle, but perfectly reflects the brand ethos with tangible impact. Not only did it win a 2017 James Beard Award, but it performed incredibly well across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on Tastemade.com.
VideoInk: What do you think makes for an effective branded campaign?
Drucker: When it comes to digital programming and effective campaigns, there are three keys: maintaining the integrity of a brand through authentic and original storytelling; a keen focus on quality content; and wide, but customized distribution with programming that resonates directly with our millennial audience.
Additionally, because each distribution platform has a unique audience with unique viewing habits, we ensure that every piece of content we create with a brand is native to the respective platform. We also make sure that the content we create isn’t just high-quality, but that it moves the needle for our partners in the areas that matter most to them. To that end, we identify which metrics matter to each advertiser in the very beginning, and work with each platform’s measurement offerings and/or other measurement solutions in order to really maximize the opportunity and impact.
Jake Webb, Talent Manager, Select Management Group
VideoInk: As far as brand opportunities go, what categories are the most lucrative for creators and why?
Jake Webb: Bigger brands (CPG, entertainment, large beauty brands) will have higher budgets, but it’s also about building relationships with brands that understand the value of digital talent in creating an effective marketing strategy.
For example, you can build a full-360 campaign including digital talent and their audience reach. When working with someone like Nikita Dragun, brands can tap into her audience when integrating in her content and may also expand the campaign by licensing or paying for original content to be used on their platforms and in larger media buys as well as in-person appearances. This allows brand to access Nikita’s audience demographics, determine which cities are strategic for in-store or experiential events, and connect the campaign to the consumer in real life (plus drive in-store traffic and conversion).
The more talent can broaden content while retaining audience engagement, the more they’ll find themselves eligible for deals across different categories.
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Andrew Saunders, Head of Global Brand Strategy, Tastemade
VideoInk: When it comes to branded digital content, what’s the biggest trend you’ve seen emerge?
Andrew Saunders: The most prominent trend is that branded content has increasingly become more than the content itself; it’s about building a 360 ecosystem around it with multiple consumer touch points. The goal has always been to help brands tell stories in ways that create meaningful connections with consumers, so if we’re able to combine online connections with real world interactions and let fans physically experience them, that’s a huge win.
One of the best examples of this was when we partnered with Airbnb on their “Airbnb Open LA” initiative — a weekend-long celebration in Los Angeles that included 15,000 participants. Tastemade brought the LA food scene to life through an amazing interactive experience at our studios. We hosted over 30 of LA’s top restaurant and food purveyors representing over 12 distinct LA neighborhoods. During the event, some of our most popular Tastemakers performed a live, interactive cooking demo. These compelling moments and highlights were shared widely with the global Tastemade audience across social media, where we married digital engagement to real-life interactions.