With years of experience working with leading publishers globally, Dana La Gattuta has seen the branded content industry consistently evolve with continuous expansion and constant innovation.
This week, we sat down with Dana to take a dip into what the landscape looks like now, the trends that are cropping up, and the publishers setting the benchmark for branded content today.
Branded content has been on the scene for years now, but what does the landscape look like now and where are we seeing it most?
You might find it hard to believe, but branded content has been around since the 1950s. Some early forms include news anchors performing live demonstrations. The idea that talent a consumer trusts or a context a consumer is passionate about is a time-honored adage. Believe it or not, consumers enjoy advertising… as long as it’s relevant to them. We live in a consumerist society. It’s fun to learn about products that will enhance our life. However, you must respect the viewer. They’ll reward you if you engage with them thoughtfully. The problem is that advertisers are more concerned with the quantity of views rather than the quality of engagements. They’re not thinking about the viewer, they’re thinking about their own marketing message. It’s time for industry creatives to evolve with consumer expectations.
Are there any major trends emerging in branded content?
We’re seeing content creators considering ways to create a more active audience base — from shoppable QR codes on live TV to inviting viewers to unlock ‘Choose Your Adventure’-style content — entirely new creative approaches are taking shape. In essence, the viewer’s behavior is at the forefront.
Creatives are straying away from a traditional, one-to-many communication flow. From iconic storytellers like NBCU to millennial-driven publishers like Vice, we see all spectrums of the ecosystem are evolving with a smarter, digitally-savvy consumer.
Are there any key pain points the industry is experiencing when it comes to branded content?
Publishers are being asked to produce high-quality branded content but with fewer resources. Not only do they have smaller client budgets but also smaller production teams. Couple that with the fact that static video is difficult to measure and it’s no wonder that many publishers are resorting to banner ads and programmatic ad products. They’re lean, scalable, and measurable simply by views.
It’s clear the branded content market is going through an inflection point where they either find ways to create engaging content, efficiently or offer a scale play. At the end of the day, consumers will decide which strategy works best.
Who are the publishers doing branded content best?
TODAY, National Geographic and HypeBae are among the leaders in the branded content landscape for their ability to integrate interactive strategy into their creative ideation as opposed to applying it ad-hoc.
Year one of working with these publishers usually entail simple shoppable content to introduce viewers to the new technology. As time goes on, they’re starting to bring their creative team into the fold and develop a content-first approach to interactive as opposed to applying it as an afterthought. Developing interactive from the ground-up delivers a much more harmonious experience to the viewers and we’re excited to see entertainment content become more interactive.
How do you think branded content space is going to evolve across the next 5 years?
We’re seeing content creators starting to think about interactivity from a storyboarding phase and that’s refreshing. Presently, we see a lot of Interactivity manifest as simple as ‘Buy Now,’ CTA but the strategy can also be deployed to further a plotline, deliver contextual information on a developing news story, and even help prospective travellers research a trip. Adding layers to video content has infinite applications and we’ll see branded content explore them in the coming years.
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