The theory is very clear and I can tell it quickly enough. The “branded content” is, they say, the new paradise. The secret formula which will allow brands, advertisers and agencies place the usual message in the heads of the usual public. Publicity hiding other publicity, messages which seem real histories and campaigns hidden in sports challenges or cultural projects.
For what? Two motives. First: to solve the absolute discredit traditional advertising has: their messages no longer impact. Second: avoid media, because they always form a filter between emitter and receiver to subtly place the message in the consumer’s wall through social networks.
Wikipedia’s definition is pretty straightforward: “Branded content is a relatively new form of advertising medium that blurs conventional distinctions between what constitutes advertising and what constitutes entertainment. Branded content is essentially a fusion of the two into one product intended to be distributed as entertainment content, albeit with a highly branded quality. Unlike conventional forms of entertainment content, branded content is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than, for example, a movie studio or a group of producers. Branded entertainment is used in events and installations, film, video games, music, the internet, and television”.
My introduction is openly critic because, being the cool chance branded content is to create a new bond between business and clients, in most of the times the result is no big deal. They’re losing a great chance to establish a different and profit-filled dialogue between both parties because there’s not a will to modify structures, processes and thought manners which have worked for 30 years. And I said “worked”. ‘Cause they no longer do.
Consumers have made their position clear. They know what they want and who ask about it. Do business know it? Hard to say at short-term. Let’s see the why.
Marketing or communication. Victors and vanquished?
After the theory is up the execution of it is another tale altogether. And the arrival of a new communication model which attracts and hooks a customer demands to re-formulate the function and the real use of internal structures, because concepts and functions are mixed up.
The border between marketing and communication had been clearly defined in the businesses and positions were defended fiercely. And because of some reason I never got, marketing always would win when it came to influence and allocation of resources. The projection and fame of a brand plus the publicity, consumer impact and sales… All were dependent on that department. All of it under a ton of words which essentially meant the same and which invariably ended in “ing”.
Dealing with the media was handled by the communication departments: they always tended to have lesser resources and the control of those media based on publicity counterparts with non-written deals depending on the publishing or not of press releases which went through dozens of filters which progressively reduced its informative value. These processes don’t work anymore. The network has imploded the traditional publicity channels. The TV, despite being important for some of the population, has slowly faded from the young ones’ daily lives and newspapers and magazines are dying ‘cause the network has destroyed a business model without bringing up another.
People only believe people and that’s through some channels: the solution advertisers came up was tell the same in another place. That is, nowadays, the branded content. The problem’s been apparently solved.
There are 2 interesting posts about this topic. First is writte by Enrique Dans and titled: “Social media key: content generation“ Second is really provoking, written by Carlos J.Campo and titles: “Marketing Directors: Jig’s Up“ which brings a lot of key points to make us think about this topic’s evolution.
A must-have fusion
Ever since Google, having an inspiration spark, found out what reporters have know for 100 years, and that is that people like good contents and links pages which offer them, things have changed. You know: like how Ms. Merkel rules in economical manners, in digital manners the path is set from Mountain View.
The result is: the search engine prioritizes relevant contents (and original) and through the Internet, a blog or a social channel, the business and advertisers must radically change their politic to make their messages visible (1st step) and believable (2nd step).
That affects the manner to communicate and sell, marketing, how we shape a site, SEO and online reputation. This new communication which the clients wishes and Google demands (and I guess Bing also does too) can’t be done from the traditional marketing POV.
Going by that way of thinking, the message and the idea are always the same. A content which can’t be discussed, repeated thousands of times without being able to reply and focused on the emitter’s goals, never on the receiver’s needs.
Now that the communication departments must handle this ‘cause they know how to create contents and tru info and thus their strengths have become necessary, what demands (and there’s the quid of the matter) a deep internal re-organizing of a lot of companies. There are some who will be forced to yield power (and budget) so that other can gain new functions and screen time. Changing classical marketing for real branded content and make wise use of best of both worlds.
Regarding that, I recommend an excellent collaborative document by Foxize School: “Branded Content’s Importance” in which several pros provide their opinion about the branded content.
The exhaust of the traditional relationship models demands new methods for new clients. Better informed and more active and demanding and which know that social recommendation is far more valuable that the most powerful of publicity campaigns. When faced with that, they need to better communication, sell in a careful way and treat each other as equals.