Custom Content Is Not The Only Way To Improve Brand Awareness

October 2, 2017

In Partnership With  

Earlier this year, we partnered with the Ipsos Connect team to conduct one of the largest and most extensive branded content research studies. Our objectives were twofold. First, prove branded content works; and second, uncover strategies for publishers to make it even more effective.

We recently further refined the data and found even more insights and tips for publishers. Over the coming weeks, our team will publish a three-part series called: Proving Branded Content Works! The three themes will further examine how the level of brand integration, content formats, and environmental conditions impact purchase intent and brand awareness.

This first post examines how different levels of brand or product integration impacts brand lift. There’s a common perception among publisher sales teams that custom content is the most effective method for moving the needle on brand lift or awareness. While both editorial and custom content are effective of driving awareness, custom did not perform better than editorial in our research study.

We tested real examples of branded content on both ends of the integration spectrum; from editorial produced content with brand association (logo disclosure) to custom produced content with obvious brand or product integration. Here’s what we found.

Insight #1: Editorial Sponsorships had a Stronger Effect on Purchase Intent

  • Purchase intent was 24% higher after engaging with sponsored editorial content, compared to custom content.
  • A consumer electronics brand achieved an 84% increase in purchase intent with sponsored editorial content.

“Through better integration and a more targeted approach, publishers provide marketers the freedom to offer relevant and engaging content, and respond more directly to user needs and interests, while offering brands a more effective way of delivering their message.”

           – Peter Minnium, President, US, Ipsos Connect

When selling a large campaign, our advice is to keep it as simple as possible. An entire campaign does not need to be all custom produced assets. Rather, include a variety of content types and formats with varying levels of brand or product integration. Within the production package, include a few pieces of custom content with a larger variety of supporting editorial content. Association with editorial content is great because it’s content that yields a higher margin (the production costs are sunk costs and already paid for). For this type of campaign, offer a total views guarantee against the entire campaign (across all types of content).

Insight #2: Editorial Sponsorships Are More Likely To Be Shared

  • Editorial sponsored content is 32% more likely to be shared than custom content

Insight #3: Editorial Sponsorships Developed Stronger Interest In The Brand

  • Editorially sponsored content is 8% more likely to create brand interest than custom content.

Insight #4: More Subtle Brand Integration Improved Reader’s’ Perception of the Content

  • Readers (unsurprisingly) thought editorial sponsored content was more believable and informative than custom content.
  • However, when it comes to factors such as entertainment value or interest levels, there was only minor differences between the two.

Our Survey and Research Methodology

  • We surveyed 4,000 unique readers after they engaged with various types of branded content.
  • We created 36 unique test cells based on a combination of different content and environmental conditions.
  • We compared brand lift impact based on device types (mobile or desktop), presence of display ads (companion or filler), content formats (video, text or image), and level of brand integration (editorial and custom content).
  • We tested with real branded content pieces from a wide variety of brands, including the following:

[Download Whitepaper]: A Guide To Brand Measurement:     How To Make Branded Content More Effective

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