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The Rise and Rise of Branded Content

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Branded content looks set to play an even more important role for marketers this year but the age-old issues of metrics and a return on investment will become increasingly important, writes Trevor Daly.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAATeAAAAJDM1MWEwNzAxLTQxYzQtNGQzNS1hYmNkLWUyYjMwY2UyOTEyMwHaving worked with some of the world’s most popular brands over the last 10 years, you acquire a certain level of skill when it comes to seeing what the future holds. It’s not necessarily about making an accurate prediction but more about foreseeing how things will change and then adapting accordingly. This is most evident in the digital space and I think we haven’t even started to scratch the surface of what’s possible there just yet.

If I was to look back a year ago and make a prediction, it wouldn’t be about mobile, as we are now mobile first, but it would be to say that branded content will be at the heart of every marketing campaign in 2016. Brands can no longer focus solely on digital metrics. They need to build a relationship with their consumers and branded content has proven an ability to engage with consumers.

Traditionally the US and UK markets have led
the way in this discipline with global brands like Netflix, IKEA, Ford and Red Bull investing heavily in branded content. So what does this mean for the content creators? The reality is that the model of how content is produced is changing quickly and traditional agencies no longer have the monopoly on creative decisions and production.

We are at the beginning of an evolution of how online publishers will now operate. If you set to rise heavily in 2016. All you have to do is look at Facebook’s 2015 Q4 earnings report to see the impact branded content is having in terms of revenue for the social giant.

According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video per day and 500 million people watch a video on the social network every day. In fact, it’s persuaded the company to test the idea of providing a dedicated space on Facebook where users just watch video. Some 97% of Facebook’s nearly $6 billion quarterly revenue is from advertising and the percentage of this that is promoted video is only growing by the day.

These extraordinary numbers speak for themselves and show trends that are changing
the way brands communicate and transmit their messages. The majority of the most effective campaigns on Facebook in the last year revolve around video content. Facebook’s strategy is a very clear sign of how brands should be spending online and branded content is the main driver
of this in 2016. Mobile also plays a huge part
in supporting the consumption of this content with platforms like Instagram limiting video to 15 seconds. Brands can get a message across through a piece of content in a short space of time fueling the content snacking culture that’s exploded in Ireland through social media.

The challenge with branded content will be to quantify it in a way that resonates with marketers and allows them to see a return on investment. Primarily this can be done by looking at how consumers have engaged with the content, by analysing completion rates to see if the content is sticky and ensuring brands are getting their message across. It is very much a test, learn and refine process but one that needs to be in place to show brands what metrics are most valuable when building a long lasting and valuable relationship with their consumers.

Trevor Daly is director of brand strategy at MADE by Maximum Media.

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (February 2015)© to order back issues please call 016611660