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Consumers find branded content stimulating & informative: Study

How do consumers view branded content – is it just another ad for them, or does it provide value to them? A study has found that consumers realise that branded content is part of the overall marketing strategy, but see it distinctly different than standard video ads.

Google, in conjunction with the IPG Media Lab, a division of IPG Mediabrands, conducted the study on branded content effectiveness. The study found that consumers view branded content as providing more consumer-centric information, as opposed to brand-centric. They also see branded content as more stimulating and providing more depth than traditional video ads.

Branded content, defined in this research as content that lives on its own, produced by and for the brand, as opposed to content produced by someone else the brand affixes itself to, has transformed marketing, overall. With the increased emphasis on cross-screen viewing, and digital at the core of brand communications, branded content has become a core part of many brand campaigns. This study aimed to understand consumer perceptions and to compare the effectiveness of branded content and video advertising.

The study also highlights that contrary to what marketers might think, the entertainment factor is simply table stakes. Providing content that is trustworthy and informative, while staying authentic to the brand, is much more important for building brand metrics.

“Branded content, in the right context, is a great way for brands to engage with their customers. We see examples of this on YouTube every day, with more brands creating original content like how-to videos and tutorials, or collaborating with a YouTube creator to reach their audience. This research from IPG Media Lab and Google gives marketers some insights into the best ways to incorporate branded content into an overall campaign,” said Torrence Boone, VP, Global Agency Sales & Services, Google.

Marketers should be thoughtful about where their content lives, according the study. The same piece of branded content performs very differently depending on the website on which it appears. In other words, the website has a halo effect on the brand.

“Our data indicates there are clear best practices marketers can take advantage of when creating and deploying branded content. Naturally, marketers spend more time and budget creating this custom content, so having these guidelines based on improving brand perceptions and driving purchase intent is invaluable,” said Kara Manatt, VP Consumer Research Strategy, IPG Mediabrands.

The closed study surveyed 14,780 consumers, looked at 50 brands, across 19 verticals, in 10 countries, assessing how branded content is perceived in different parts of the world and how this translates into branding effectiveness.

The study showed that consumers understood that branded content is part of brands’ advertising strategies, however, perceptions varied by country. Consumers in the Middle East were least discerning about branded content, whereas countries such as Portugal, Thailand, Chile and Poland were the most.

There are opportunities in every category for storytelling, which elevates branded content, the study found. A wide range of industries, including CPG, Auto, Telecom and Finance, were able to produce branded content that is differentiated from traditional video ads.

Consumers felt that branded content provides more depth to advertising. While consumers show similar levels of trust in branded content and standard video ads, branded content is clearly viewed differently – more entertaining, uplifting, educational, novel and exciting.

While the study found that, on average, branded content increases brand favourability by +14 per cent and purchase intent by +9 per cent, the findings go much further by showing how brands can optimise based on:

1. Level of quality – high quality content led to +10 per cent greater increase in purchase intent compared to low, indicating it’s worth investing the extra time and effort during the curation phase.

2. Type of content – providing trustworthy information was a much stronger driver of effectiveness than other commonly perceived drivers, such as originality and entertainment.

3. Brand mentions – while videos with higher levels of branding were more likely to come across as trying to ‘sell a product’, trust in the information conveyed was the same. Impact on brand metrics was also greater, particularly for high consideration categories, such as auto and finance, where purchase intent was over four times higher.

4. Location of Content – premium sites can have a halo effect on preference and intent. The more consumers liked the site, the greater the impact the branded content had on brand KPIs.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.