The Custom Publishing Council (CPC) just release its numbers for 2009 and there’s some interesting takeaways from the report for agencies looking to hit the sweet spot in the branded content space. Over half the brands surveyed (54%) are using branded content for awareness-based campaigns while only 21% where concerned with up-selling or short term transactions. Even costumer retention rated low at 25%. Of the average overall marketing, advertising and communications budgets, branded content accounted for 32% of funds.
This supports the theory that marketers and the agencies that serve them are finally getting the message that long term brand building via relevant, engaging and entertaining content is more effective than trying to bombard the audience with disruptive paid media. There is an inherent mistrust with most brand messaging, owed to decades of mass media saturation. The road back to positive perception will most likely be paved by not initially subjecting the consumer to transact without a clear entertainment payoff. In the web video space the popularity of roll-ins and commercials plays within rich media banners will most likely wane in the coming years. The benefits that these channels provide in measurable reach is increasingly canceled out by their lack of relevance to the consumer.
One problem branded content still faces is the cost associated with “baking in” branding into longer form programs, especially with web series that could go on for years. What happens when the one brand looses it’s appetite to fund the content over time and another brand wants to take over? New technology solutions are now coming onto the scene to address these issues. One company, Seven Echo http://www.sevenecho.com/, has created an interesting video delivery platform that allows for contextual “hot spotting” within the video to create ad inventory within programs that can be interchanged as easily as a roll-in. Much like what Massive did for in-game advertising, Seven Echo uses virtual real estate in webisodes for placing branded messaging.
One thing’s for sure, brands are starting to realize the need to mold messaging to the realities of current on-line behavior (on all devices) and building the trust back with consumers seems to be firmly on the radar.