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Digital video series: Tips for effective branded content strategies

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of the online video industry to discuss the evolution of online video advertising.

McLaren's 'Tooned' branded content series

As part of The Drum’s latest digital media supplement, focused on the opportunities of online video, we are publishing a series of articles exploring a range of topics, from the future of online video to the challenges of video real-time bidding.In today’s article, a cross-section of the industry share their tips for effectiveness when it comes to branded content strategy.The video supplement will be published on Friday, 25 October and will contain an in-depth look at the opportunities around branded content.Ian Sharpe, head of video and TV, Somethin’ ElseBe an entertainer! An engaged audience is an audience who will absorb the marketing objective for the content. Be seen to be 'giving' something to the audience. If the audience love the content and are aware it has been created by the brand, that creates a positive and powerful association with that brand. In its strongest form this then see the audience becoming evangelists for the content and the brand.Respect the editorial! This is a piece of content and therefore the product appearing in a way that isn’t editorially justified simply undermines the content and turns the video into an advert.Be honest. Above all, what must occur is an honest transaction between the content and its audience. It’s a dangerous game to attempt to entertain audiences but at the same time ‘slip the brand/product through the back door’ – audiences are intelligent, clever and know when they are being sold to.Don’t think in isolation. How does social media tie into the film? What other marketing will support or run in parallel. Creating a viral video is not a brief, it’s an outcome, so be prepared to think in a multiplatform way and in a way that allows different executions for laptop and mobile.Matt Davies, head of social and content, NewcastActionable insight has to feature at the forefront of all branded content. There also needs to be a healthy mix of content types. Earned media, such as blogger outreach, ensures that brands maintain an authentic presence and supplementing this with paid-for media can then drive further consumer engagement. Lastly, it’s important for brands to maximise their own channels, promoting branded content through their websites and social media platforms for maximum reach with their audience.Phil Macauley, EU managing director, QuantcastDon't bombard users with the same ad – use effective attribution to help control frequency in digital campaigns. If you are buying in RTB, ensure your digital partner can be relied on to deliver your campaign on brand-safe sites, if that’s one of your concerns. Have the right success metrics associated with what you want to achieve from your ad, and work with your digital provider to ensure they achieve those metrics with their partners.James Booth, co-founder and group CEO, Rockabox
  • Make it relevant to the audience.
  • Make it bespoke to the way it’s delivered and the distribution plan.
  • Establish what success is? What does it need to achieve…and please don’t say “it’s got to be viral”.
  • Invest time into the creative partners and work with them to build a team relationship - it will pay off in the quality of the content.
  • Be realistic about what can be achieved within the brand guidelines. No brand is going to commission from a SKINS or Girls script, as the subject area is not safe. It’s easy to want that success but not so easy to build the experience.
  • Learn to buy content from people who buy content all the time – TV commissioners!
  • Teach commissioners and production creative to understand the brand’s demands and concerns.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t understand production processes or how a team approaches the shooting, delivery etc. All industries have their own language and terminologies and the combining of the two worlds means it can be like Babylon in communication.
  • Remember your viewer can become your consumer so use technology to sell to them. This has to be done in a way that does not disrupt their experience. Get this wrong and the viewer will not be happy.
  • Ask yourself, would you watch it? The average person has six online destinations and you either find where they go and then start the conversation with them or pull them away, make one almighty noise and make it worth their while. Remember all users can get high quality content in just one click now, so yours has to be relevant and highly targeted to compete successfully.
Tom Pepper, UK sales director, Vibrant Media, and member of the IAB Video CouncilThe marketers that achieve viral success with their branded content are the minority. That doesn’t mean that marketers shouldn’t attempt it with their content creation, but it’s just important to be realistic. Many brands have produced branded online videos that languish on their website or their YouTube channel and which do not attract the video views to justify their investment in the content creation. Relying on some social media sharing or hoping consumers stumble upon the content whilst searching the web really isn’t sufficient.Brands need to promote branded content more proactively. There’s the simple things of featuring the content somewhere conspicuous on their website, and emailing it to customers who have consented to receive such messages. However, the best branded content strategies enable consumers to feel that they have found the content. Branded content must be 'discoverable' – not forced upon consumers. So rather than running a branded content video as a pre-roll before content – which would just look like an ad – brands should seed their content across relevant online environments. One of the best ways of doing so is by placing ad units which give access to the branded video content within contextually relevant editorial. This enables consumers to discover the branded content far more easily. The previous instalment of The Drum's digital video series looked at the importance of understanding consumers in video advertising.

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