Festival of Branded Content and Entertainment – Notes and thoughts

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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Last week I attended the Festival of Branded Content and Entertainment at Luna Park in Sydney. I have been interested in this idea of Branded Content for some time and attended with the aim of finding out more on the topic generally and seeking opportunities for our clients. Here is what I learnt:

There are no Branded Content experts

The first thing I learnt is that no-one really has a handle on this topic. The keynote speaker; Jonathan Kneebone (The Glue Society) remarked that “We are working in an area, where there are no experts”. Boy, did he hit the nail right between the eyes.  There doesn’t even seem to be an agreed name for this form of marketing. Throughout the conference I heard a variety of titles including: Branded entertainment, branded content, advertorial, sponsored content, native advertising and earned media. I think next year the organisers should run a poll to finally settle this.

It’s funny, because although it was often discussed how new this area of marketing is it was also suggested that it is really not much different to Advertorial content (Advertorial 2.0?) and is apparently a very big and well established industry in the UK and USA. One would presume then that we could borrow everything we need (including a name) from our big brothers overseas, no?

The elusive line

It became very clear from the start that how involved the brands are with the content is a key topic of interest. The simple notion of branded content seems to instantly ring the bell for a three-way tussle between brand, media and audience.

Publishers and media are interested in getting brands involved in paying for content (for obvious reasons) and brands want to be involved in order to gain exposure for their products and services in a format other than standard ads.

However both these parties are terrified that the audience will reject any content that has been clearly produced to promote a brand. It therefore becomes an issue of how good the content is and the manner in which the brand is promoted within the content.

There is a line drawn somewhere, but no-one is quite sure where. As a result the festival featured a variety of examples of brand proximity; from the brand being clearly presented in the entertainment (Commonwealth Bank funded articles in Fairfax) to a far softer approach where the brand itself may be absent but the key brand message was creatively weaved within the entertainment (Boost Mobile -Stay living).

This whole issue of brand proximity will be discussed for a long-time to come, but presently I feel that our industry has made a lot of presumptions about what consumers do and don’t want in this area. Perhaps a topic for a consumer research company to take up?

Where’s the small stuff?

It was clear that  this festival was very much focused on the top-end of town and the opportunities for Tier 1 and 2 brands to sponsor high-end video productions which can then be distributed across online publications and social media. Glaringly absent to me was the ‘small content’ such as engaging articles, infographics, webinars and podcasts. That sort of stuff.

Yes, it’s the sort of thing that we specialise in in what we call Inbound Marketing, but over a period of time the views and shares (let’s not even mention ‘search traffic’) of this type of content can easily compete with the types of results that this festival featured. Not as glamorous as ‘Dumb Ways to Die‘ or ‘Dove Real Beauty Sketches‘ I admit, but an important area that I felt was lacking from this conference.

Notes from Festival of Branded Content and Entertainment – 2013

Below I have pasted my notes from the event as taken on my iPad/Evernote (which was really playing up). I realise that it is a bit of a muddled brain dump, but if you were there I hope it will refresh your memory and if you weren’t there then think of it as a big word puzzle to play with – and don’t miss your tickets next year 😉

Keynote – Jonathan kneebone – the glue society

  • We are working in an area where there are no experts
  • Branded entertainment is in danger of being self interested and self serving.
  • It’s key to prioritise the audience above all else.
  • It’s not just TV, it’s ‘Anyvision’.
  • You need to have the right people in the room (Client, agency, production and media)  with a mutual respect of agendas
The great branded content debate – Dan Ilic, Zara Curtis, Ross Raeburn, Richard Parker
  • Is Google search results considered branded content? – Dan Ilic
  • BC must be considered as an integrated budget rather than an after thought of the TVC campaign -Richard
  • Nailing down the objectives for the campaign is important to get right first – Zara Curtis, spring
  • Why does most branded media suck?
  • 30 sec or 30min, it’s more about the effect on consumers and the action they take after.
  • Look up musician Cody Simpson (oh, shit that is terrible).
  • Create content differently. Doesn’t require big rig set-up. It is possible to over-produce
  • Should advertisers declare the brands involvement? Richard yes, Zara no, Ross yes.
  • Make it relevant.  Make sure you know your audience. Richard.

What branded advertising isn’t – Tim Dougg, Sound Alliance

  • Their Junkee website has a large component of branded content
  • Stop interrupting what people are in and be what people are interested in. Alex choldercot JWT.
  • Three simple tests for good branded content:
  1. Quality content. Should be created by the same people who crate the publication. Quality is relevant. Buzz feed vs SMH.
  2. Content should be inspired by brand
  3. Delivered in stream. Should be in same spot where people consume the rest of the content lives. But should be labelled.
  • Their process involves their writers pitching on a brief provided by the client
  • Look up Lexa in melbourne. Analytics (couldn’t find anything on this)
TV with friends
Brent Anells – head telco, tech and entertainment, Facebook
  • 12 million per month on Facebook
  • Daily mobile use overtook desktop use last year. 41% revenue came from mobile use this year! which was zero previously
  • People check facebook on average 14 times per day
  • Prime time is the same on Facebook as it is on TV
  • It’s about precision targeting

Felicity McVay, head of content partnerships, YouTube

  • 45% views on youtube come from mobile devices
  • 1 billon views per month
  • Gen C. 18-34 yrs old. Connected. 9 out of ten sleep next to their phone. 1 in 3 upload video. Share 50k+ videos/month
Case Study: Boost/The Monkeys – Dan, Micha, Anthony,
  • Zombie content. Fiction drama developed for mobile phone brand Boost Mobile.
  • Agency brief: Fearless creativity. Stay living. Be independent
  • Matched to the product offering of ‘unlimited freedom’
  • Small budget so needed to be different to gain cut-thru.
  • Didn’t want to just reflect youth culture back to them (as is usually done)
  • Created extra deeper dive content that was available in alternative mediums
  • Extended content like apps were promoted at different stages after launch to encourage re-engagement
  • Prepared for every disaster possible. Inc secondary censored material
  • Invited bloggers interested in this genre or big in the youth culture to be in the film. Eg. Kimi : 220,000 followers.
  • Content was supported with an amazing offer.
  • Strong instore presence involving the content and offer
  • 30% increase in sales. Brand awareness with the target audience
  • Once you work out how to use the platform you start understanding how to abuse the platform (youtube).  – Dan
  • Making sure the right audience sees it, led to very little complaints – Dan
  • Strategic, smart and credible within the space you work in – Dan
  • When you get it right the opportunity comes when the audience ask for more

ROI and effectiveness in branded content

Tony Chow – International media consultant

The science and art of measuring
  • Set KPIs up front for
    • Exposure
    • Engagement
    • Influence
    • Action
  • Ask questions for conscious feedback
  • Measure visual attention
  • Holy shit-balls this guy needs to slow down!
  • Measure reach, impact on brand metrics, marketing mix
  • China have youku.com. Kaixin for blogging
Ayala Steiner -Outbrain
PPC ads linking to custom content. Network: The australian, herald, smh, age, yahoo
Google say there are 10.4 touch points before purchasing decision. Makes analytics difficult
As long as we can show people interacting with the content, at this stage it seems enough
Publishers are very reluctant to share their data.
Michael Byers – Showbrands.
What to measure?
Know your business objectives. Sales or brand lift. What attitudes or behaviours are you trying to change.
Set benchmarks
What is coming? Predictive analysis. Holistic measurement currency.
Start planning measurement, when you start planning content.
We have to start moving away from silos. Agency wants one thing, tv, online etc.

The myth of the viral: The secret relationship between branded content and paid media – Host: Adam Ferrier

John Mescall. ECD McCann – Dumb ways to die

  • I don’t know what branded content is when there is no definition of what advertising can be.
  • The one thing that gets shared online is positvity and happiness
  • Tumbler site live first. Launched it with a journalist at The Age.  On Youtube they let people comment freely. Then a karaoke version as released. Radio were hesitant because of the lengh of the song. Paid media week 3. Plus owned media at train stations
  • You can’t do anything without a great, trusting, client.
  • 75% awareness. read the Effie paper online. Gaming and merchandising is next.
  • Key question to ask with branded content: Would I pay to watch this?

Joel Pearson. PHD Worldwide – Dove Real Beauty Sketches.     (not this one)

  • Promoted on Facebook, youtube, twitter. Paid and PR.
  • Gave each global partner a small budget and the rest of the money to the best performing. Letting shares takeover.
  • Edelman supported with a big PR campaign driven by regions showing the biggest reaction on social media.
  • If you don’t create a bit of a stir, good content can disappear.
  • Trueview from Youtube. The better it goes the cheaper it is. Allowed them to move their budget around to be most effective. Pre-roll on the 7 minute version. Started search at the start.
  • 5 weeks, most action happened in the first 2 weeks. The promotional team included 2 brand managers, mavens data company, and the client. Ogilvy’s work ended after production.
  • Tip: Don’t skimp on budget for quality


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