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The Attack Of Branded Content

The Attack Of Branded Content: Who Will Control TV On The Web? (TCTV)

I’m a much bigger fan of “branded content” than advertising because:

  • Branded Content is going to be relevant to the content, so it’s got a much bigger chance of being relevant to me if I’m watching the program;
  • Branded Content integrates the product promotion into the show so it’s less disruptive than unrelated advertising shoved at the audience;
  • It provides the brand a clearer message: they’re the only message associated with the show.

Now, Erick Shonfeld of Techcrunch is less of a fan of Branded Content than I am, but I think he makes a fundamental mistake in his introductory paragraph:

I’ve got to admit, the concept of “branded content” on the Web makes me cringe. It is generally used to refer to Web videos created and packaged specifically for an advertiser. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I like my videos created for the audience first, not advertisers. And yet, in the budding Web video industry, branded content is bringing in some serious dollars and even some serious talent.

He makes the mistake that “videos [are] created for the audience”. Television Content has only one customer: the advertiser. The producer makes a show that the network/cable channel thinks they can sell to enough advertisers to get a return. The audience is never an important factor, other than there needs to be enough of them to sell the advertiser on advertising on the show.

Branded Content is more likely to be made for the audience because if it’s not then the brand is going to get much less value from it. On a recent Terence and Philip Show Terence Curren told the story of a mom-focused show sponsored by Kraft, but looking at the video the only obvious intrusion of the sponsorship by Kraft was a strategically placed bottle of Kraft dressing in a family meal shot. Terry says he would not have noticed other than he knew that Kraft sponsored the show.

Advertising – creating an audience that you can then ‘sell-out’ to advertisers by interrupting the entertainment to force you to watch advertising. With Branded Content we choose what we want to watch, in return we’ll probably see one or two branded items. If that’s well integrated into the show, it’ll only be obvious because broadcast and cable have become “brand phobic”: unless the brand is a sponsor they blur the brand out, or use fake brands.

Read the article and tell me in the comments whether you think Branded Content is a good thing or not. I think it’s better for the audience and better for the advertiser/brand.

I like the model that Mark Pesce promulgated in Piracy is Good? (or on video) where he explains the principles of Hyper-distribution: single sponsor, integrated product promotion; free and widespread distribution.







2 responses to “The Attack Of Branded Content”

  1. 3pointedit

    I thought the strength of the Internet as an advertising medium was niche delivery to individuals. So that a program maker could sell discreet views to separate advertisers? This precludes brand insertion as non focused.

    1. There’s brand advertising and product advertising. Brand is the most common form of Broadcast advertising and is the most challenged by the Internet’s ability to make the advertising load less onerous on the viewer and more effective for the advertiser. This is part of what will disrupt broadcasting when their most profitable advertisers make their own brand-aware content for their own viewers leaving the network in the dust.

      Targeting segments for product advertising is what I hate because it is disruptive by nature – it has to interrupt something not relevant and that’s just bad.