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Branded Content is Killing Your Social Media Ads.

You’re the TV, they’re the viewers. If you’re not of substance or entertaining enough, your show will get cancelled.

Photo by Satoshi Hirayama from Pexels

Today, users are overwhelmed with ads and information at all times. It has come to a point where people would invest in ad blockers. Now, more than ever, brands are constantly looking for new ways to connect with their audience. It’s 2019, so the solution is content. But, not just any content. Branded Content – I’ll get to that in a bit.

The fact that it’s so easy for consumers to skip advertising, content has never been more important. That’s why more and more brands are incorporating content strategies into their marketing plan. Online, people can and will try to avoid ads, but they’ll spend minutes to watch, read or listen to something that they find interesting or entertaining, regardless of its length. It has become the most powerful tool for communication. Brands have become broadcasters. They need to behave like a media company and think of their customers as viewers and regularly provide them with quality content just to stay relevant. But more importantly, to make sure that people don’t forget them. There’s always content to be consumed and if you don’t jump in and catch the wave, you’ll get diluted by the others that do churn out quality content. Scary. Yeah, I know.

What is Branded Content exactly?

Thanks to our short attention span, there’s always a “new concept” getting trendy now and then. Annoying. I know. But in all honesty, branded content isn’t something new. The concept dates back to the early days of broadcasting; many early radio and TV programmes were controlled by their sponsors and branded with their names, including The Colgate Comedy Hour and Hallmark Hall of Fame. If you’re tired and confused, you’re not alone. So, what on earth is branded content? 

There are many types of content out there – product reviews, tutorials, commercials, interviews and so on. Branded Content specifically, is the type of content that’s NOT “salesy”. It’s far from content that directly sells to customers. It can be in the form of articles, videos, podcasts, live events, video games and many more. It’s the type of content that DOESN’T talk about you, your product or your company. At least not that. It’s not advertising in the way most people think of advertising (banner ads, influencer programmes, social media ads and SEO) Branded content can entertain or teach people something. It results in better engagement returns than your standard “For one day only, 50% off” or “We make the best quality bla bla bla” content. The key is to grab people’s attention and generate conversations around the brand, driving real engagement through content.

Why Branded Content trumps social media ads.

Ads are everywhere. We turn on the radio, we hear ads. We scroll our Facebook and Instagram feeds, we see ads. We read our e-readers we see ads. We walk from the office to lunch, you guessed it – more ads. We see billboards, email marketing, and banner ads daily. Think about the number of times you’ve skipped on YouTube or close an app once the advert comes on. However, you might instead search for Vogue’s 73 Questions with Selena Gomez or Petronas’ Eid advertisements or tune in to #Lipstories by Sephora.

Branded content gets more attention and creates more recognition because when consumers watch a piece they like, they are much more likely to recall the brand better than display ads. They are also more likely to seek out more content from the same brand. People like branded content because the message isn’t a sales pitch, so it creates trust between the brand and the consumer. Traditional digital marketing like banner ads per se, do not have the same outcome. It can get invasive especially ones that hinder navigation. You’ll just end up annoying people, ergo rejection. It does not generate an emotional connection or a genuine engagement. Branded content seeks to attract consumers naturally and make them want to get closer to your brand. 

Some examples;

  1. LEGO Movie by a toy company, The Lego Group.
  2. Victoria Secret’s Angels’ Parade by a lingerie company, Victoria Secret.
  3. Vivy Yusof’s Youtube Channel by the co-founder of Duck Group & Fashion Valet, Vivy Yusof.
  4. Dove Real Beauty Sketches by toiletries brand Dove.
  5. Petronas Eid Advertisements by oil and gas company, Petronas.
  6. Makeup tutorials you see on Instagram.
  7. Cooking videos you watch on Facebook.
  8. This article.

If you notice, all these content steer far from the standard promotional content that tells you the best things about their brand or product. They don’t even tell you to buy it! The whole purpose of each of these contents is to get your attention, so they are either entertaining or educating you.

Some takeaways…

Remember. People are becoming more and more intelligent these days. They know when you’re just saying whatever just to sell your product. But if you entertain them, teach them, provide them with content that they like, now and then when you ask them “Hey, we have a new shampoo we just released, would you like to buy one?”, they’ll say yes. Learn from YouTubers. They’ve got it figured out. They provide good content to their viewers, and every once while when their new merchandise drops, fans will buy. Turn your followers to fans. Consumers are not just customers now. You’re the TV, they’re the viewers. If you’re not of substance or entertaining enough, your show will get cancelled.

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Fahada Nordin
Written By

She is a co-founder of Unlimited Design Asia, a subscription-based graphic design services company. Follow Fahada on LinkedIn and website.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Kartina

    23rd August 2019 at 6:15 am

    This is a great piece.

    Thanks for the insights.

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