We live in a world where we are constantly craving novelty – the newest trend, the next big thing, the most up to date gadget. And it’s not just us as consumers, marketers want in too. Advertisers know that in order to keep up with consumers they have to join, post and add to latest social, app, and technology crazes. However, recent data shows that the mantra “out with the old, in with the new” may need some revisiting.
Despite the millennial trend of cord cutting, competition from Netflix, online streaming sites, and social media platforms in general, it’s the oldie – TV – that still remains a goodie for marketers.
The effectiveness of TV ads were contested in a collaborative new study conducted by Turner Broadcasting, Horizon Media and MarketShare. Their research found that TV ads were more effective in driving sales and new accounts than online and other media platforms.
This might be due to the fact that consumers trust messages sent to them via TV more than messages sent via ads that show up in search engines, online video ads, social networks and banner ads.
As Issac Weber, VP of Strategy at MarketShare puts it, “TV is the giant megaphone. … When you want to get the message out, that’s still really the most powerful means to do it.”
The study seems to have made quite the impression as Turner Broadcasting unveiled its in-house branded content studio for CNN and HLN on Monday. Dubbed “Courageous”, according to the press release, “the studio’s production capabilities will range from multimedia “super stories” to longer-form flagship series, along with distinct integration opportunities that capitalize on CNN’s all-screen global power.”
Staffed with editors, producers, videographers, and data scientists, the Courageous team plans to implement “RED methodology to brand partnerships: Relevancy, Execution and Distribution.”
“Now we can offer marketers the opportunity to harness the value proposition of CNN like never before,” said Dan Riess, Executive Vice President of Integrated Marketing and Branded Content.
Examples of the type of works that would be created in the studio are ones that highlight things that have news value, such as building of a manufacturing plant or a philanthropic effort, according to Otto Bell, Vice President and Group Creative Director of Courageous.
While CNN may be leading such an endeavor on the television front, it seems to be a trending move for media companies to create such in-house shops. Music companies such as iHeartMedia and Pandora offer branded content studios, and news companies such as New York Times, BuzzFeed, and The Wall Street Journal have units that create advertiser content. Condé Nast even has a program in which magazine editors work directly with brands.
So what exactly is branded content? The definition given by the Branded Content Marketing Association – “Branded content is any content that can be associated with a brand in the eye of the beholder” – doesn’t define exactly what it is, but really what it does.
One way to look at it is branded content can be anything as long as it connects emotionally with audiences first, and focuses on building a positive image of the brand rather than generating leads and sales. Ali Savar a judge at Cannes Lions, describes the difference between branded content and other advertising, “Traditional advertising is about delivering features, benefits, and a USP through a product story, and then finding creative ways to connect that to people. Branded content is sort of the reverse of this.”
Here are a few of my favorite and different examples of branded content.
- The Lego Movie
- The Chipotle Animations
- Oscar Mayer’s Wake Up and Smell the Bacon App
- Hootsuite Game of Social Thrones
As Jeremy Taylor from Our Social Times specifies, “branded content marketing campaigns are often associated with entertainment-type content, such as creative video advertising.” So it is easy to see how 24-hour news stations can attract brands to this new option with viewership numbers, while filling their own programming vacancies for a profit. Dan Riess said CNN’s trustworthiness is why advertisers will be attracted to Courageous. The only question is, will viewers mind that the content is sponsored?
-Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson