With numerous emerging on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Apple TV+, to name a few, audiences and consumers have found a whole ad-free and interruption-free universe. And they love it. In fact, a study by IPG suggests that 65% of people skip advertising as soon as they get the chance.
Day after day, cable and satellite subscriptions are rapidly declining. Digital is no longer considered new, but rather traditional. Ad blockers are rising, and skip buttons have transformed the digital landscape into another form of stress for advertisers.
It’s obvious: The interruption era is over. So, what’s next?
Our industry needs to think about how to transform passive viewers into an active audience, which media can’t put a price tag on anymore as they used to with TV and digital ads. The curse of the digital age, in addition to new technologies, pushes marketers to focus more on efficiency than effectiveness by investing primarily in performance and ROI at the expense of brand-building.
Brands need to work on strategies that connect them to the right audience, not only making them loyal, but also connecting them to a positive cultural experience based on values and purpose. We need to create stories that penetrate the cultural zeitgeist around a brand. The stories you remember. The stories that start a conversation. The stories people embrace. When your story creates a real connection, you have the customers of today and tomorrow’s era.
The solution is no longer in the push, but rather in the pull, whether it’s an original series, feature film, documentary, reality show, podcast, music video, live event or stand-up comedy show. Branded entertainment starts from a marketing issue and builds a whole universe around it by perfectly integrating the brand into the narrative structure in a subtle yet effective way, rather than traditional product placement that only provides visibility.
A well-thought-out and strategized branded entertainment piece can not only help position a brand based on its core values and goals, but also allow brands to create intellectual properties that will result in monetizing their marketing content, instead of simply integrating someone else’s narrative structure. And it works.
According to a Hulu study, branded entertainment is 89% more effective in driving purchase intent than a 30-second TV ad. But that’s not all. A separate IPG study found that consumers who look at pages with branded content will be 41% more likely to express an intent to buy compared to those who saw a regular web banner.
In the end, streaming and on-demand platforms and services aren’t the enemies; they’re amazing opportunities to take advantage of this new era, tell better stories, and start thinking and acting like the media to feed their own audience and acquire new ones.
Here are five tips on how to make a successful branded entertainment piece:
1. Start with your brand’s values. Know them and test them against how your business behaves and the products and services you offer.
2. Define the issue or situation you would like to fix or improve. For once, make sure your answer isn’t short-term sales. By taking care of your brand health and what it means for consumers, you won’t depend on rebates or R&D to generate sales or justify that you exchange with your audience. Your brand alone could be a reason for consumers to buy your product/service.
3. Don’t obsess over your logo. Let your values and/or product attributes do the job (that is why you need to know them).
4. Don’t expect 24-hour results. Build over time, and then expand.
5. See how your other pieces of communication can complete or support your branded entertainment piece. The goal is to start from the original branded entertainment content and have different executions (cutdowns or edits) that will complete the ecosystem. It’s important not only to support the brand’s positioning, but to promote the product/services as well spread awareness and build curiosity. Viewers should be eager to discover more, as each execution will highlight a different purpose to achieve marketing goals while maximizing every dollar invested within the initial production.