Staff Reporters
May 19, 2016

MARKETERS FORUM: Branded content is good, but not a silver bullet

Fears of ad blocking and the rise of advertising aversion have helped build the hype around branded content. But is it effective enough to be marketing’s legendary silver bullet?

CW from top left: Sloan, Pena, Bell, Wong, Chew
CW from top left: Sloan, Pena, Bell, Wong, Chew

Dan Sloan
Nissan Global Media Centre

Branded content has produced undeniable successes in the last few years both for corporates and media, becoming another essential marketing & communications tool, backed by ROI analytics.

But just producing stories or campaigns does not ensure audience. In the absence of an effective distribution strategy, ‘if you build it, they may, or may not, come.’ Even great content with an authentic voice needs a channel to engage an audience.

Audience indifference may be a byproduct of messaging’s distinction from overall noise and the efficacy of the social media platform targeting those potential consumers.

There are no silver bullets: just knowhow from trial and error, constant analysis, and sometimes just blind luck.

Paul John Peña
Group brand manager

There was never a silver bullet for marketing. Even TV was not it. Investing in more GRPs or TARPs didn’t address all of marketing problems. The best campaigns for messaging and driving commercial results have always been from an integrated piece.

Consumers have learnt to ignore, block or skip ads, not only on the internet as they’ve brought this from their traditional media consumption behaviour. This is not entirely new as a behaviour, even with branded content now taking front and centre of the mix.

Branded content is not a silver bullet: there would never be one. But it presents a chance to provide stronger engagement than a short TVC, which otherwise other channels in the mix would have been weaker in delivery.

Rachael Bell
Head of marketing, AMEA

BT has always been a strong proponent of content marketing for its authentic manner of brand storytelling. Unlike digital ads, which now have little reach due to ad blockers, branded content engage audiences with relevant, thought-provoking narratives. It must take centre place in any marketing plan, with its potential to drive behavioural change.

BT has been working with Avaya for five years for annual Autonomous Customer reports that capture behaviours, yielding solid insights on consumers’ wants from organisations. Feedback on the report is positive: some customers say it has guided them in developing successful customer strategies. It helped us generate new sales leads for our customer relationship management solutions.

Joanne Wong 
Regional marketing director, APAC & Japan

Certainly, the availability of ad blockers and consumers’ lukewarm reception of irrelevant advertisements have driven marketers to look at alternative means of communicating with their target audience more effectively. 

Marketers should not focus on circumventing ad blocking. Instead, marketers should address the reality that consumers will only be receptive of content that’s genuinely of interest to them. 

A number of brands have solved the challenge through branded content development, prompting media owners to offer greater flexibility and more options. Facebook recently enabled this feature when the company updated its policy and introduced a new tool specifically for branded content.

Dominic Chew 
VP branding & strategic marketing
City Developments

Branded content seems to work well communicating a brand value or attribute.  That makes it good old-fashioned brand advertising, placed in our current fragmented digital mediascape.

However, to label branded content as a silver bullet is a far cry.  The bread and butter of each commercial organisation is to make the sale. The question is how to translate views, shares, comments and the entire gambit of digital jargon into an ROI that leads to a spike in sales? 

If we want to convert a prospect into a customer and a loyalist, we should give the customer compelling reasons and reward in the transformation process. There will be no need to fear ad blockers if customers find compelling reasons to search for you.


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