best of branded content 2013

Branded content marketers will increasingly realise that their brands are best understood as socially constructed organisms consisting of all kinds of brand meanings, brand manifestations and brand stakeholders, such as consumers, employees, competitors, suppliers, pressure groups and the media. Any of these stakeholders is able to create and disseminate brand manifestations, such as branded content, on an unprecedented magnitude – no matter if the focal organisation behind the brand (usually the legal trade mark owner) likes it or not. What’s not going to change is that content will have to be distinctive and resonate with the targeted stakeholders’ needs, interests and/or passions to be successful.
—  Bjoern Asmussen, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Oxford Brookes University

What changes do you expect to see within the next five years, and what will stay the same?

I believe that we will live the evolution of the current Era of Social Conversation intensely, and that it is becoming increasingly visual and “hypermediatic”, resulting in a more involving, less intrusive and less interruptive context. The audience will become even more intelligent and sophisticated and will demand challenging and interesting narratives in all forms of content. Literally, if it is interesting for them, they will be interested in it.

The endless willingness of the audience to participate in the networked participatory culture – simultaneously, live and in real-time - and expand the non linear conversation around the content will improve the technologies and initiatives around SocialTV, Second Screen and Real-Time marketing. It will also increase the production of “Event TV” programs, especially reality shows such as the “X Factor”, where the audience fully participates and feels like the true winner. Talk shows such as Talking Dead and Talking Bad will continue to appear on TV as well as in the web.

Marketers will seriously focus on creating Branded Content in all formats and platforms, targeting customers based on their personal context, moving from a media-centric approach to one based on human context. A content where the consumer is the protagonist and hero of every story.

In the next five years we will see Storytelling getting deeply connected to Branded Content, assuring the evolution of the power and the reign of content, with more relevance, involvement and efficiency.
While de way to connect will be the story, entertainment will be in the essence of the content, as the language used.

Native Advertising will become the starlet in the blurred lines between ads and content, by reinventing the business of publishing and snatching the emerging markets. A growing number of publishers will create their own branded content divisions, paid media operations, brand strategy units and digital production services, in-house. More often, they will be hiring publishers to create content on their behalf.

What Stays The Same ….
Advertising will have more stories and entertainment than today, but it still will be responsible for pushing products and for putting the brand in the foreground through traditional messages in the old broadcast style.

Traditional Advertising will still represent the largest slice of marketing investments while branded video content should remain as the main form of branded content to reach the audience on social media.

—  Patricia Weiss, Strategic Consultant at the Intersection of Marketing, Advertising & Entertainment, Chief Strategy Officer at Asas da Imaginação (Cultural, Entertainment and Art platform through Transmedia Storytelling)
Here’s what will be the same: people will keep sharing content, and branded content will be a relatively small but a relatively important part of the mix. Consumers will keep shifting to new media properties and platforms, and brands will keep following suit. Here’s what will change: plenty will change with what kinds of content people consume and share, and what kinds of devices people use to share it. More importantly, brands will have a much better understanding of the kinds of value of what they share, and they’ll have a great sense of what their audience wants and likes. Brands will employ more sophisticated predictive models to determine what people want when they want in, just like brands do for pricing, promotions, and merchandisng.
—  David Berkowitz, Chief Marketing Officer, MRY
The fragmented media landscape means that we’re faced with this dual challenge of really understanding at a micro-level how individual channels or touchpoints are working, but also at a holistic level, how they all fit together. That’s a tough challenge but we’re getting smarter at meeting it through a combination of small scale qualitative insight, big data observation and survey-based interpretation.
—  Ian Wright, Managing Director at Tapestry Research
Eventually there will become a tippling point where the penny will drop around the real value and power Branded Content delivers way beyond traditional media valuation. I suspect this is when those pre-recessionary Marketing Budgets and risk takers return back to the marketplace and BC becomes the norm centrepiece of every campaign. It’s not quite there yet but the green shoots can be seen. The next 5 years will also see greater joining of the dots between the linear and non-linear world where Branded Content campaigns transcend TV, Online, Social, POS with the overall activation far greater than the sum of its parts.
—  Jason Hughes, Head of Branded Content & Product Placement, Sky MEDIA
The fear and trepidation around brands creating their own branded content will fade as they realise they are, and always have been, story tellers. We will see campaigns fully embrace the multimodal nature of the social web using image, video, micro video and audio whilst also evolving dynamically thanks to the consumer shaping the story itself. Research, tech, creative and strategy teams will work closer than ever in finding the best way to create content that truly connects with the consumer. Celebrity talent will play a key role in branded content partnerships. Not only through the loyal and sizeable fan base they can mobilise for a brand, but also as dynamic content creators and media owners in their own right. The future is full of possibility, and in the new world of branded content, collaboration will be the name of the game in creating compelling stories that brings consumers and brands closer than ever before.
—  Jadis Tillery, Social Media Strategist, Advisor and Speaker
For a brand to keep up with a world where the convergence of media and technology is moving closer to the individual at pace it’s more crucial than ever that they take time and effort to ensure that their content strategies are truly consumer-centric. This convergence means that content and the point of transaction are also moving closer than ever so not only do brands have to still inform, entertain and delight with their content but they also have to ensure that where relevant a journey to purchase is easy, smooth and importantly unforced should the consumer so desire it. Context is key, the right content for the right device juxtaposed with the right type of brand to consumer interaction at the right time. Authentic and constant consumer-centric behaviour from a brand will always be the best way to aid success in rapidly changing convergent media world.
—  Max Garner, Managing Partner at Aegis Media
I predict — or, perhaps more accurately, I hope — that brands will move away from their real-time marketing obsession and create something more substantive and lasting. The Volvo/Jean-Claude Van Damme video is mesmerizing and the Lowe’s Fix in Six Vines are legitimately helpful. Seems a lot more additive than tweeting nonsense during the Super Bowl.
—  John McDermott, staff writer at Digiday

New tools will emerge to help real-time marketers become more ‘agile’: In the world of digital marketing, we’ll see the emergence of new tools and platforms to support the macro-trend towards content marketing and real-time marketing, with more brands becoming newsrooms for their niche, leading to greater investment in content discovery, content curation and content creation as brands vie with each other for consumers’ mind share on social platforms.

Brands Will Learn How To Make Most Of Wearable Tech: When it comes to next-gen advertising we’ll see brands making use of more complex and more varied data sets to improve audience targeting e.g. only advertising woolly hats in cities where temperatures have fallen overnight or advertising umbrellas in areas where it’s forecast to rain. Brands will need to navigate the opportunities and challenges presented by wearable technology and smart-appliances. Yes - the Internet of Things will open up the possibility of hyper-geo-located targeting - for example sausage ads as you open your your fridge; replaced by porridge oats ads if your cholesterol reading is high or an ad for sunscreen displayed on your smartwatch if the UV rays are high when you open your front door? Relevance and utility will be key to success for brands that want to play in this emerging space.

—  Sarah Wood, COO, Unruly
With its ability to draw people in naturally through entertaining, emotionally engaging messaging, branded content will continue to feature in more and more client strategies to reach 21st century audiences and develop deeper relationships with them. What won’t change is consumers’ rejection of irrelevant interruptive advertising.
—   PJ Pereira, Chief Creative Officer, Pereira & O’Dell

At the moment, most market research is done of the basis of target audiences, and they’re a surrogate for consumers. We have got so used to it that we’ve lost sight of what’s implicit in that. The more that media can be delivered on an IP or individual basis and therefore become disaggregated, then that whole way of thinking is going to be challenged. It will become much more about what people do than what audience group they are in. I don’t mean that in a fashionable way, just that the whole concept of target audiences will collapse to a degree; and that’s a real challenge for market research because market research is all about saying that there are 20 million people we are interested in but if we talk to 2,000 of them then that tells us all we need to know. So, that’s going to be really pushed when you’ve got IP TV, and all those kind of things coming along. You will still aggregate people up, but it will be no longer effective to say we are trying to sell Nescafe to housewives with kids. Instead it will be we are trying to sell Nescafe to people who buy our brand and/or one from our competitors, and we know that because we have their club card and other data. They bought 2 months ago, so they are probably running low about now, so they need more exposures. Oh and they usually shop on Sundays, so exposures on Saturday would be ideal. And then you won’t be buying TV against housewives with kids which means for Coronation Street you no longer care about the GRPs it delivers, but you will be valuing individuals based on purchase probabilities. That changes everything in terms of how media works and who should be on the team to deliver and evaluate it
—  Tim Foley, MD, pointlogic
Within the next five years the world of content marketing will be turned upside down, even if businesses are still practicing it (and to a greater degree than today). Businesses will regularly build quasi-official alliances with each other and publishers, usually facilitated by an agency, to collectively produce a compelling digital experience. Businesses will abandon the practice of capturing lead data as enough non-personal identifying data can be captured without it. Lastly, better marketplace mechanisms will allow content experts and businesses to meet and cooperate more easily and effectively than today. It’ll still be about relationships. Marketers will still obsess a bit over Google. Only 10-15% will regularly practice content marketing really well. And people still won’t be really satisfied with the word “content” or the expression “content marketing”.
—  Ryan Skinner, Senior Analyst - Content Marketing, Forrester Research 
Content is the drum beat of engagement between a brand and its publics. In the next five years content development will shift away from communication, marketing and public relations departments to become the communication norm for all operational areas of an organisation. Consumers for their part will use technology to filter out unwanted noise and so organisations will need to be smart to engage.
—  Stephen Waddington, Director, Ketchum Europe and author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals
9 out of 10 people listen, engage and interact with radio, and do so across an ever-growing selection of digital platforms. So branded audio content of the future needs to engage with audiences across a wide variety of different platforms, including DAB, mobile, tablets, podcasts and online platforms. Plus listeners now want to ‘see’ radio as much as hear it, so providing additional exclusive visual content that people can share with their friends is also really important.
—  Karen Pearson, CEO and Founder of Folded Wing (@MissKarenP)
It is a given that creative content that resonates with audiences is crucial for brand success in the digital age. Social will increase the volume, but also reduce the size: as audiences (and mobile) demands bite-sized, digestible and continuous content. And brands will be forced to make sure they provide content, branded or otherwise, that is useful. But what will change in the next 5 years most significantly, is the level of analysis that will be expected. Analysis, often in real-time, that identifies the content that travels on trend, attracts attention, gets shared etc. Optimisation of content will be the norm, as brands look to justify content investment.
—  Katy Howell, CEO, immediate future (@katyhowell)