How is the branded content market developing?

Consumers can expect to see an increase in advertiser-funded content, both on TV and online, two experts say.

Cresswell... Canter
Cresswell... Canter

PHIL CRESSWELL - IDEATION DIRECTOR, UM LONDON

- With the advent of brand owners/advertisers investing directly in content, are the days of depending solely on the TV broadcaster over?

No. Broadcasters, with their expertise, relationships and specialisms, will always have invaluable experience when it comes to commissioning programmes. However, there's a growing need for collaboration between broadcasters, commissioners, schedulers, advertisers and their agencies. The more we understand how the other works, the more compelling our content will be.

- Do you know of a content and programme co-production where the brand owner has partnered (in the fullest sense) with a broadcaster to spread the financial risk?

We have examples involving our own clients, such as Xbox, Lindeman's and Bacardi Superior, where we've worked closely with broadcasters to ensure the highest production quality without diluting the commercial aspects we set out to achieve. I'm not sure spreading the financial risk is the main motive behind this - it's more about pulling together as much expertise as possible. In a branded content piece for Lindeman's, for example, we developed the content in collaboration with GMG Radio, using its insight into audience and our insight into target market. The combined expertise, coupled with a sensible contract, meant that risk to client investment was kept to a minimum.

- To what extent is branded entertainment growing?

Is it rapidly catching up with the traditional forms of content investment or are brand owners and marketers still cautious? It is growing, but from a relatively small base. Brands and marketers are still searching for the magic formula that enables explicit integration of brands and products into entertainment, without jarring with the content or regulations and compliance.

- What is the content production company expected to do to reassure brand owners that they will get their money back?

We're lucky to have a client base innovative enough to embrace the opportunity branded content offers, but I can certainly see why there's nervousness around it. In most cases, marketers need to see returns for their media budgets within a specific time frame - something that cannot be guaranteed in most branded content campaigns.

- Is product placement on TV programmes - a format that is also evolving - considered branded content?

It depends on how it is utilised within the programme and how integrated it is within a show's storyline. A prop in a daily chat show is not really branded content, whereas a high-powered car that forms the crux of a new crime drama arguably is, if it has been placed. We recently partnered our client Xbox with Sky1's A League Of Their Own in a product-placement deal. We had the live audience playing with an Xbox Kinect console and actually used that content within the body of the show, so I would class that as branded content. From a consumer's viewpoint, I don't think it matters what you call it, as long as it's relevant and does not interrupt their entertainment.

- Has social media opened up new opportunities for funding branded content, including crowdsourcing?

Absolutely. Social media opens up greater immediate reach than anything before, while providing a feedback loop that maintains and cultivates interest at the same time. It's the new artist's canvas. Crowdsourcing is a massive opportunity - provided it is quality controlled - allowing companies to participate in online conversations around their brand on screen.

ANDREW CANTER - FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CONTENTWORX

- With the advent of brand owners/advertisers investing directly in content, are the days of depending solely on the TV broadcaster over?

Yes, to a certain extent, but TV broadcasters are looking at ways of diversifying into alternative broadcast platforms. TV-on-demand is establishing itself as a credible alternative to mainstream linear broadcast channels. In the UK, the main broadcasters have "catch-up" services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Sky Anytime.

- Do you know of a content and programme co-production where the brand owner has partnered (in the fullest sense) with a broadcaster to spread the financial risk?

This is a trend that is increasing. Certainly, we have seen a number of examples of this in the UK. Perhaps the most successful case was where Channel 4 and T-Mobile agreed a 50-50 deal for the music programme Transmission.

More recently, the trend is for broadcasters to commission on the basis of "deficit funding", where a broadcaster has decided that it wants to commission a programme but is only prepared to cover a proportion of the cost itself. It is then up to the production company to find the remaining funding from a brand. The programme is commissioned only when all the funding is in place.

- To what extent is branded entertainment growing?

Is it rapidly catching up with the traditional forms of content investment or are brand owners and marketers still cautious? We have certainly seen an increase in interest from brands, particularly in light of the new regulations relating to paid-for product placement - Nescafe, TRESemme and New Look, for example. Also, the rapid advance of technology has lowered the barriers to entry, giving brands the opportunity to test different content strategies at an acceptable cost. It also allows brands to change things if they are not working as well as anticipated.

- What is the content production company expected to do to reassure brand owners that they will get their money back?

It's all about proving the value of branded content and showing that it is as effective, if not more so, than traditional advertising formats. The Branded Content Marketing Association has developed ContentMonitor, in partnership with Ipsos, to answer questions of effectiveness and return on investment. Normally, it would be the broadcaster's job to prove the value to the brand.

- Is product placement on TV programmes - a format that is also evolving - considered branded content?

It's fairly early days, but more brands are looking at this new area of the branded content market. Product placement would be part of branded content, as the brand will appear in the context of the content created. There will be different variations, depending on how the brand activates the placement.

- Has social media opened up new opportunities for funding branded content, including crowdsourcing?

This is an increasing part of the branded content market. An example that resonates is the Walkers "Sandwich" campaign, which made full use of social media. Also, the Foster's campaign featuring Steve Coogan, which successfully used the internet and social media exclusively.

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