The rise in popularity of content marketing in recent years continues to bring brands closer to their audiences and expand the very definition of what content can be. In 2018, branded content goes far beyond a simple article or video on a dedicated page. In this year alone, we’ve seen content ranging from 360˚ videos to interactive video game experiences, and that’s just the start. Innovation in content from brands, agencies, and publishers is constantly evolving, and shaping how we as consumers communicate with brands daily. This brings up a salient question: how can we know what makes a piece of content successful if the space is always changing and growing?
For starters, it’s important to note that all branded content is driven by a goal on an individual or campaign level. Whether that goal is to inform, entertain, or persuade will greatly define what ‘success’ means. However varied content goals may be, our measurement across the scope of branded content has helped us pinpoint what makes any piece of content a success.
Today’s news-centric world is encouraging audiences to look deeper. People are less interested in individual stories pertaining to a brand, instead seeking out how brands might relate to and interact with the world around them. Put simply, brands can no longer depend on attracting an engaged audience by talking about themselves in a bubble.
In the past year, we’ve found that pieces connected to well-known events, such as nationally observed months and natural disasters, have garnered higher than average viewership and average time on page metrics, stronger response rates, and largely positive responses to our sentiment surveys, especially when asked about brand perception. Championing the accomplishments of an employee with autism during Autism Awareness Month, for example, is far more impactful than writing about diversity and inclusion hiring in the abstract.
Branded content presents a powerful opportunity to break down barriers and connect with audiences on a deeper, human level. Being tapped into what is going on in the world helps effectively thread a brand’s message into everyday life.
Knowing Your Audience
It’s tempting for brands and publishers to adopt the newest, flashiest forms of branded content across all facets of a campaign. However, it’s also critical that they consider their audience. Branded content efforts that cast wide nets across different publishers are likely to encounter different demographic breakdowns, even within the same campaign. Keeping that in mind, it only makes sense to play to each audience with content that best suits them.
If a brand publishes content on a long-established, prestige news publication, it would be best to present themselves in a long-form article, which would be familiar and expected by their older audience visiting the site. Alternatively, if the same brand is pushing content on an innovative, tech-forward site, it would benefit them to capture the younger, more tech-savvy audience’s attention with a fun, interactive experience.
Branded content is at its best when it becomes a seamless addition to its surroundings. Knowing the target audiences across publishers, and anticipating what content they’re looking for ensures that success is found.