more on branded content

April 22, 2009 · 0 comments

yesterday i was in a q&a session at the iab online video day. the topic was branded content. as a planner who has brought this tool out of the war chest for his clients, i had some good insights to share (at least i think that's why they asked me).


the main point that i wanted to elucidate on more here was around why an advertiser should pursue this approach for their brand. i broke it down into two criteria that must be evaluated prior to pursuing. if it doesn't meet both of these, than other approaches should be considered.

starts with the brand

i know, it's not normally where i'd say it starts because it always starts with the consumer. in a way it still does, but i'm assuming we've already gotten past the assumption that you are pursuing a digital opportunity because that is where your consumer is and a preferred channel for them.

so to be more precise, it starts with a brand need or it fills some gap in the brand's ability to tell a story and communicate with consumers. a couple of principles go into the making of this first criteria.
  • the piece should link strongly back to the core platform or pillar program of the brand. it's not a one-off initiative that doesn't build off anything deeply embedded into the constitution of a brand.
  • doing branded content should come out of a genuine need to amplify the brand. not because you saw another advertiser do it or a case study at a conference that showed it was a good thing to do.
  • does our message require a longer form vehicle to communicate? if the product, it's usage or the story of it is detailed, yet essential, then branded content can be considered.
consumer checkpoint
once you've identified a brand need, which is probably often easy to say yes to, then we move to the side of the equation that is much harder to pass. that of the consumer. these are tougher and more subjective questions to answer, but the consumer is solely in charge of the success.
  • is it valuable to them? will they get something out of it that otherwise isn't met elsewhere?
  • is it interesting? have we really delivered something that our consumer will actually want to spend time with?
  • is it entertaining? have we made it enjoyable for them to consume?
  • is this something that the consumer will make a connection with our brand? will they feel better about our brand after having seen it?
it's an evaluation as you would evaluate any other media decision. it's an honest look into what your efforts are meant to accomplish and if you're setting yourself up for success.

you do have to be a little more careful (but still take risks in your execution) as it's a tricky space to master. consumers are fickle and discerning about these things. it's not like a tv commercial that is 30 seconds long with the absolute expectation in the consumer's mind that it is a commercial. this is a much less hard selling piece and a fine line to walk because consumer perceptions in this area are murky. not to mention there's a lot more ground here (longer than a :30 sec. spot) and potential for missteps.

some other considerations around branded content that are also essential into the decision making process include
  • measurement: how will we know it worked and delivered to objectives?
  • promotion: the notion of 'if you build it they will come' is a fallacy, so how do you want to use media to make sure your consumers see it and it has a chance to succeed?
  • distribution: what channels will carry this for maximum reach and impact potential?
  • overtness: probably best practice to not shove the brand in the audience's face. find a way to subtly integrate, but not so far as the brand is completely lost.
the last thought is around collaboration. this is not the area of any one agency or client. it is a cross-functional process that will deliver best results if it is. media, creative, client, site, producers, all need a seat at the table and a say in what happens.

Dapper vs. Google

April 20, 2009 · 0 comments



today google announced intentions to go after the online display market, a break from it's core business in search. as the link indicates, google analyzed it's content network and found it to be more cost effective than search, though still a smaller component to overall revenue and searches. where this data leads google is to say that the content network holds a lot of potential for more than returning just textual, search ads.

meet dapper, a tech that contextually delivers advertising based on page contents and inner-site searches and other data based content. much like google, dapper scans the page for relevant keywords and determines the context, then serves ads based on that.

at last, a marriage of the highly effective, and cost efficient search world with brand building image ads. but does it deliver?

immediately, i love the notion of an ad being more relevant to the environment. as a planner, the context is probably my biggest input in site selection and media placement. to add another layer of that is a real sweet spot. it makes the placement a beacon for consumer engagement and interaction.

this holds tremendous potential for a number of advertisers and industries. dapper's video shows some real easy examples of how to dynamically push ads. as with search, the primary benefactors are e-commerce companies. what about true brand advertisers?

where i'd like to see it go is graphical ads where images can be pulled from a library into preset animations with text generated all from input from the contents of the page? doable? hard to say. maybe. will it look good and just how many iterations can really be made? i don't have answers, but it's exciting to see where it goes and how far it can be pushed.

don't get down in a down economy

April 14, 2009 · 0 comments

it's getting pretty repetitious seeing all the doom and gloom of the economy in the media everyday. it's a reality, but it's also pretty tiresome. in my particular industry, it is being felt just as much, but thankfully not much of the doom (as of yet), just a lot of gloom.

but i'm not letting it stop me or the work of my clients. reading in between the lines of this downturn, i see opportunity. here's my take for the advertising world.

innovation
now's the time to push the envelope. publishers and suppliers are hungry for any revenue and are likely more open to different approaches that break from the norm. or at least they should be if they like income. on the client side, it may be a little harder to justify trying something new and perhaps unproven when every dollar counts so much more. but it is those leaps that can propel a brand when all around them are stagnant. think crazy, think big. challenge the standard and staid.

pricing
in a similar vein, hungry media companies will work in other areas as well to make it attractive for advertisers. it's not bullying, but good deals can be struck. when faced with a lower cost of the media and heavy bonusing or no revenue at all, the choice is clear. and it saves them the erosion on their own brand perceptions of a thin book, lots of house ads or worst of all, ugly credit ads. we should always be innovating and not using the economy as an excuse to postpone.

social media
as this is a relatively lower cost space to play in, social media could take precedence in the marketing mix. when times are tough, it's your core consumers that will keep you in the game and this is the right channel to build that out.

don't stop spending
there's a lot out there to say that curtailing spending on your brands in a recession is harmful to brand growth (or even maintenance) in the long term. the short term impact of putting back to the bottom line is faulty long term. i know this is the hardest to adhere to, but most significant because it is the whole of the brand at stake.

it's too easy to get down in the dumps about a recession. it's the same as with a personal brand as it is with a corporate brand. i read that people have a tendency to go into the doldrums in these times and that is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. people should be even more active to prove their worth and stand out above the others to continue their growth and keep their jobs. brands should be no different. rise above it and do your bes not to stall.

social media won't kill tv

April 8, 2009 · 2 comments




today i had the good fortune of being on a panel at mesh conference for the 'managing your ad buy' session. during the session i made the above claim. i thought it warranted more context and explanation than the short panel allowed for.

i can't recall how this came up, but i do believe the truth in it. i also can't remember if i did mention a :30 second spot specifically, because that i do not believe. the :30 second spot is becoming a dinosaur and will likely die off. how soon, i don't know. i just know our attention to and desire to watch that length of advertising is waning. shorter length tv ads is the future of that medium. but this change won't be because of social media. it's just changing consumer preference and control over their experiences and time.

the greater context here is in traditional media vs. social media and if the latter will eliminate the former. while i don't think this will ever happen, if it does, it won't be soon. some media will definitely die, no question. i'm looking at you printed media. at least not in their current format. magazines or newspapers may well survive, they will just be digital devices and not pages. that is if publishers ever decide to change before their brands stubbornly perish because they won't adapt. i digress.

tv will no doubt evolve and the advertising model will no doubt as well. but that screen will remain or some form of it to view video content for a while. the main reason is that tv is too far ingrained with our culture - yes, even youth culture. as long as there are viable audiences, it can be monetized with ads in some way. it's going to take far more time than even just one generation for tv to expire.

i would also venture that social media is the best thing for tv. social media is about conversations and conversations around content (ie. tv shows, music, movies, sports, etc) are part of the fabric of the space and society as a whole. social media is just a better version of the water cooler. that content just needs to be good enough to warrant conversations. so in that sense, it's fuelling it, not killing it.

there's no doubt people are spending a huge amount of time with social media. it's diminishing tv's importance and the time spent with it. or is it? somewhat, but the proliferation of two-screen activity is such that both are alive and well and used at the same time.

i'd be remiss if i didn't also inject online video into the mix. while not social media, if anything could kill tv in the digital space, it's online video, not social media. but even this is a long way off as the online video experience pales in comparison to that of tv. and computers and tv are going to converge even further so that online video (or on-demand video in general) could end up back on the tv anyway.

tv is on the cusp of a rebirth not death. technology is coming down the pipe that will really rejuvenate the medium and make it more powerful. all the great things about the web and social media are coming to tv and it will change the experience for advertisers, broadcasters and most importantly, consumers.

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