UK broadcaster Channel 4 has noted a surge in interest in branded content and has tailored its commercial offerings to meet this demand – with special attention on social media. Its latest research finds that brands get a 29% greater boost out of this content than traditional spot ads. How will this play into the commercial dynamic going forward?
The background: Channel 4 now has a huge stake in the branded content game with the recent bolstering of its branded content wing. With this research, it looked to prove the medium's effectiveness. But the study also indicated why the broadcaster is going deeper on branded entertainment as an alternative to the interruptive linear TV spot.
It blended insights from academic studies with quantitative and qualitative research into existing Channel 4 Branded Entertainment shows.
The results: It has found that branded entertainment sees a 29% higher brand perception than the standard linear ad.
Furthermore, 44% of respondents felt more positive about a brand after seeing it in such a programme.
Six in 10 respondents felt positive about branded entertainment in general, particularly younger audiences.
It was considered the third most preferred method of funding the media after traditional TV spot adverts and sponsorship.
Seven in 10 viewers also scored it high on quality, entertainment and originality.
With this product, Channel 4 sells a phenomenon called 'brand rub'. Brand involvement in a good show generates a warmth towards said brand.
Of course, a linear spot is easier to develop and buy. For branded content to work, the concept must seamlessly blend brand and show concept. 84% of respondents "highly agreed" that the brand should have a logical fit with the programme. Next, the show must land with audiences - if so, brands have a much longer window to land a message with the target audience.
There's additional insight. 60% said programme enjoyment is unaffected by brand involvement, 29% said they would feel more positive about a show if a brand is involved and only 11% said they would feel negative.
In turn, 44% feel more positive about a brand after seeing it in a programme, with only 4% feeling negative.
Channel 4's view: Sophie Lloyd, branded entertainment and creative leader at Channel 4, said: “We’ve always believed branded entertainment delivers for brands but with this - the first research of its kind - we now have proof. It’s an opportunity for brands to co-create quality editorial entertainment and weave their values and messages through storytelling and narratives that viewers want to engage with."
Previous results: The broadcaster has developed branded shows with Uber and Age UK. In Uber's Where to Britain?, the perception that Uber has friendly drivers increased by +95% and having a ‘sense of humour’ saw an increase of +105%. Meanwhile, for Age UK in Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds, 51% more saw it as an uplifting brand.
Other Channel 4 shows developed in partnership with brands include Extreme Everest with Ant Middleton (in partnership with energy drink firm Berocca), All Star Driving School (auto manufacturer Suzuki), and Britain’s Unsung Heroes (in partnership with TSB and produced by ITN Productions for Channel 4.)