Today’s Internet users are more sophisticated than ever before—an entire generation has been constantly connected since birth. They are spoiled, in a way, and have come to expect a more cohesive and connected virtual world. Additionally, young consumers are simply too savvy about when they’re being sold to.
In response, marketers are continually devising new ways to integrate advertising more seamlessly into the user’s digital content experience.
Brand communication specialists Ipsos Connect partnered with Canadian technology solutions provider Polar to conduct a study aimed at answering this question: “What is branded digital content, and does it work?” The short answer: Yes.
For the study, a variety of actual branded content was selected. Participants navigated to a live website and had their interactions and responses monitored in four areas: content form, accompanying ads, level of brand integration and delivery device. Text, video and image-based content were equally represented, both coupled with and without companion ads.
Overall, branded content had a clearly positive impact on brand awareness and purchase intent, regardless of form or delivery. After engaging with branded content, users’ average unaided awareness was 69 percent, and purchase intent was 51 percent.
In the study, branded content outperformed averages for important elements like believability, uniqueness and entertainment. Internet users responded more strongly to these ads, which enhance, rather than disrupt, the consumer’s experience of digital content.
The freedom to choose what content to read, view or watch — based on the users’ own interest in the brand or product — lines up squarely with the desires of the new generation of users.
Through better integration and a more targeted approach, brand marketers can offer relevant and engaging content. They can also respond more directly to user needs and interests. In addition, they are offering brands a more effective way of delivering their message.
Here at BrandStar, we’re always hard at work cultivating innovative ways to tell a brand’s story. From our TV shows to our digital platforms, we seek to entertain while we’re informing our viewers and users.
We’ve listened to users’ demands for a less disruptive content environment. In response, many brands have become reticent to include companion advertisements alongside branded content. They fear confusing users, or even worse, creating a negative online experience.
It’s true that videos require more focus to connect the meaning of the moving images to the story they are crafting in their minds. However, the study does indicate that video content can be a very effective tool, if utilized correctly.
Incorporating segments from our shows onto our website and social media platforms helps immerse our viewers and users into the entirety of our brand partners’ stories.
Additionally, sharing digital imagery is a simple, yet powerful means of delivering content, particularly in the age of ever-shrinking attention spans—and screen sizes.
Brand marketers should see this as an opportunity to develop even more precise ways of presenting digital content that captures users’ attention.
Branded content is here to stay, and it’s no longer if companies should use it, but how.
Andrea Kraft is BrandStar’s Vice President of Marketing.