So the other day, after writing the article on Display Ads becoming less effective, I got to think about where the Advertising world is heading now that classic campaign moves are not being the most profitable anymore. And it occurred to me that, over the past few years, a new way of advertising has become more and more popular, hence, more and more effective. And that, my friends, is what we are discussing today: The one and only Branded Content.
As you guys must already know, Branded Content is the new move that brands are going for in order to position (or enforce their positioning) in the market. Basically, instead of just launching an Advertising Campaign, Brands choose to go for a type of content that’s not literally an Ad, often articles, and include a line in there saying “this was paid by whatever the brand is”. Basically, Branded Content is having some sort of content that is not an Ad being paid by a brand and explicitly saying so in it. Brands can choose to go for an article that has nothing to do with their product or they can go for something related to it, depending on each of them’s publicity strategies.
On choosing which is the content that you want to pay for, it really depends on the size both of your brand and of the site that you want to have your Branded Content in. For example, if you choose to go with The New York Times, they’ll probably have a category of selected articles that you can choose to go with, but this won’t be 100% your call unless you are a massive brand. On the other hand, if you go for a local news website, they may even let you send them the article that you want to appear in. The decision on whom you are choosing to pair up with really will depend on the public you are targeting. Obviously, if you are going for an audience of, for example, 16-year-old girls, you won’t choose to have your Branded Content in a retirement entertainment magazine.
Given that Display Ads are now much less effective than they used to be, brands have found that Branded Content is very useful in terms of reaching audiences that wouldn’t pay attention to their traditional campaigns. For example, if someone has a Pop-Up blocker, they would never get many of the usual Ad Campaigns, but there’s nothing out there to block a simple line that says “paid for by this brand”, is it? So people can actually see your brand alongside the content of your (maybe partial) choice.
As you probably know, Google Ads recently has a bunch of new policies regarding what’s okay to advertise and what’s not. From privacy issues to illegal content, Google Ads is getting more strict than ever. Given this situation, and not to get into the moral implications of it, many subjects that used to be all good to go (in the Advertising world at least) are not anymore. Branded Content takes a huge step up here appearing like a great alternative to those who can’t choose to go with traditional Display Ad (at least through Google Ads) Campaigns.
And to use this as an excuse for the fun tangent we have here, last week I read this AdExchanger’s article on BuzzFeed’s deal with Bellesa that works as a perfect example for this. What the article’s all about is BuzzFeed seeing an amazing business opportunity on one of the many controversial topics that Ad platforms banned: sex toys. BuzzFeed here figured associating with a Sex Toys Brand would be a great move since they could no longer run traditional advertising campaigns anymore. This way, they implemented a campaign that helped Bellesa (the sex toy brand that gets to advertise their products) and they linked two subjects that caught their interest: Sexual education (which they considered an important point to improve, especially in the US) and attracting millennial public.
Banned subjects are just one example in a long list of innovations that you can get from such a wide technique like Branded Content is. Another great advantage of Branded Content is that you can choose an article that, instead of being focused on a product or service, chooses to reflect the values and principles that your brand has. For example, how great would it be if your brand was the one paying for an article about a benefit event for an orphanage? Note: You can apply the same to any value or image you want your brand to have.
So, as we can see, all over the advertising world, Branded Content keeps taking over and proving its benefits. In my opinion, it’s great to see that Ad Campaigns evolve and keep finding new ways to succeed. But even more great it’s to see how not-so-new techniques (Branded Contents is now about 10 years old) prove to still be profitable and, even better, that they have even more aspects to explore and get benefits from.
To conclude, I believe Branded Content is a unique form of publicity that has a very wide variety of ways to be exploited. Since pretty much any brand can get benefit from it, everyone can find a way to make it work for them making it a very approachable and easy to at-least-give-it-a-try form of advertising. As we can see, it’s getting more and more popular with the time and the evolution of Marketing and Advertising technologies, so why don’t you go ahead and give it a shot on your own? There’s no harm in giving it a try since, as it basically goes with everything, Branded Content definitely is the new black.