The $400m Branded Content Opportunity Down Under

March 07, 2017

Last week I visited Sydney for the first time. After meeting with our many Australian partners, I  was inspired by the market opportunity for premium publishers and impressed with the quality of talent within media companies I had the pleasure to visit, which is impressive given I thought I would be distracted by the locals.

Content On Fire Down Under

Australia is a mature, developed and progressive digital advertising market. The smaller relative market size has forced faster innovation amongst premium publishers; the rest of the globe can learn from the urgency I observed across most Australian. Display advertising has started its decline for many of these publishers and has transformed into the new print.

I listened to several anecdotes about brands asking for more than banners and boxes from publishers, as they also have woken up to the many challenges present in traditional digital ads. In that sense, the Australian market is no different than what I observed last month at the IAB Leadership Conference – the value of premium branded content is at an all time high.

The $400M Opportunity

Premium branded content will be a $100M market in Australia in 2017 for premium publishers in the digital space. Polar partners with many of the largest publishers in the market. The global premium branded content market is growing at 35% year over year, and from our research and talks with our partners we believe the market is growing faster in Australia at over 40% – due in part to a smaller starting point. This will be a $400 million market in Australia by 2021.

Aussies Need To STOP Using The Term Native

3 years ago, the term “native advertising” had a lot more meaning. What started out as a way to  describe a specific content experience (contextual promotions for branded content) is now commoditized as an advertising format.

An integrated, thoughtful, clearly disclosed content experience is far more valuable than an advertisement masquerading as content with a headline and thumbnail layout, and leading a reader to content of dubious quality. Referring to branded content as native is a dis-service to the value it provides.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Outbrain and others commoditize the term in the market, pitching advertisers and agencies their “native” solutions which are more often than not seen as lower-funnel, performance-based marketing tactics. Premium publishers offering content solutions meet a completely different marketing objective: upper-funnel, brand-building strategies executed through content. For this reason, I am adamant premium Australian publishers stop referring to their branded content solutions as “native”.

Branded Content Is More Than Custom Content

Success in branded content is not about creating the biggest content studio right out of the gate. There are several shades branded content, from simple sponsorships of existing editorial, to complicated hosted executions of a brands own content on a publisher’s site. Capturing Australia’s piece of the global digital content marketing revenue depends on publishers offering brands the full spectrum of premium branded content.

Diversifying and building options through innovation and the expertise publishers have in premium content is the key to success in the next 5 years. From what I’ve seen in Sydney these past few weeks, this is more than possible for Australian media companies if they position themselves correctly.


JULY 2017

Polar’s Snapshot of Global Branded Content Performance presents the complete picture for major markets and publishers this past quarter.