This article byÂ Lynn Browne, Co- Founder,Â BrandVergeÂ and Mollie Kehoe, Co-Founder,Â BrandVergeÂ looks at the reasons why content matters more than ever for marketers as today’s buyer is more inclined to make purchases from companies whose ideas align with their own thinking, and even their own conscience.
The path to purchase these days is different than even just a few years ago. Just recently, eMarketerÂ predictedOpens a new window Â that digital advertising will surpass traditional this year.Â Not only are there many new avenues to reach consumers, but today’s buyer is also more inclined to make purchases from those companies whose ideas align with their own thinking, and even their own conscience.Â Enter the era of branded content.
Consumers are aware that they have a voice and can interact with brands in ways never possible before due to the power of social media. They are also looking for (and expecting) brands to inform, educate and entertain them.Â This need for information is good news for media companies who build,Â manage, and share branded content programs.Â These companies are natural storytellers that audiences rely on for entertainment and information.Â It also means there are creative newÂ opportunities for advertisers looking to engage with and reach customers inÂ new and unique ways that appeal to both consumers’ intellect and emotion.
This shift to branded content has taken off in a big way, in fact,Â 86 percentOpens a new window Â of business-to-consumer brands are now using branded content because:
- It gets attention.Â As consumers, we are used to traditional advertising and have mechanisms to screen it out or ignore it. But such blinders don’t apply to branded content, which consumers generally warmly greet. Research from Turner Ignite, for instance, found thatÂ 62 percentOpens a new window Â of consumers have a positive reaction to branded content.
- It’s interactive vs. interruptive advertising.Â The nature of branded content is to leverage editorial to express a new point of view. Instead of interrupting consumers, they [consumers] are seeking you out to share with and hear what you have to say. Brands are tapped into the ways consumers are using their products and are looking to share that with a larger audience.
- It shows respect.Â It’s a better experience for consumers because it aligns with content that they want to be reading. It feels more personal to them. One study found that consumers got aÂ 31 percent increaseÂ in emotional engagement with a brand while watching branded content. In comparison, there was no increase noted when consumers saw an ad.
- It leverages professional storytellers. Brands are using storytellers these days and sharing information using blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos to make their caseÂ in a way that speaks to the target audience and makes it easy to relate to, agree with and understand.
Branded content provides a way to capture consumers’ attention and also drive brand loyalty.
Her Campus, for instance, leverages its network of college women to build an editorial community. The brand knows that the way to reach this audience isn’t the traditional top-down approach but rather to discover what its target audience’s passions are and reflect those. Her Campus offerings include engaging editorial, nurturing influencer networks and developing curated events that bring together thought leaders. For instance, Her Campus built, managed and shared a tailored Earth Day content program viaÂ BrandVergeÂ to connect with hundreds of potential advertisers. They connected withÂ Earthbound, a leading licensing and brand management company had been tasked with finding a media partner to support a special Earth Day campaign for Bed Bath & Beyond’s all-organic brand,Â Under the CanopyÂ to create awareness of its sustainability values. Her Campus used its editorial community network to launch â€œDoing the Most,â€ an editorial piece to underscore the values of the Under the Canopy brand. The content hub includes eco-friendly articles and a custom native article highlighting 8 college women making a difference by promoting sustainable initiatives.
As a result of its successful campaign, Earthbound created a unique longer-term on-going partnership with Her Campus that extends well beyond Earth Day to continually connect with this engaged audience.
Just as marketers years ago needed to craft the right slogan to catch their target consumers’ attention, today the marketer needs to think in longer bursts. Consumers these days put more thought into their purchases than in the past. Slogans are still part of the mix, but when it comes to making a purchasing decision, consumers are giving precedence to the kind of long-form branded content that is rooted in a firm understanding of who they are and their ability to relate to and with the brand.
Co-author:Â Mollie KehoeOpens a new window Â Co-founder â€“ BrandVerge
MollieÂ Kehoe, co-founder ofÂ BrandVergeOpens a new window Â has over seven years of advertising sales and management experience with various publishing and digital organizations including Meredith Corporation, Sporting News and AdTheorent.Â MollieÂ began her career in advertising at Fitness and More Magazines, where she discovered her passion for client facing sales roles.Â MollieÂ was one of the first employees at AdTheorent, where as Director she successfully led the New York Sales Region for three years.Â MollieÂ is a graduateÂ of Penn State University.