Branded video content is by no means a new concept. From the Colgate Comedy Hour in the 50s to Gillette Soccer Saturday in the modern era, brands just can’t keep their paws of top quality content.
There is a reason why brands can’t stay away, that’s because the high end content is was viewers love. Back in the day this leaned more towards TV and radio shows, but now with the likes of Youtube and Netflix, amazing quality, original content is more accessible online.
“How’s this different to a high production TV advert?” you may be asking. A very good question indeed. The main difference there is that the content isn’t led by the brand. The advert is not in your face advertising, it’s highly watchable content, with the brand sitting in the background.
Although initially, this may seem too subtle if you want to sing and dance about your brand. But as I’ll show you, the concept of branded content has a history of being a successful marketing technique. Now, in the era of unending golden content, an environment has developed to capitalise on branded video content and reap the benefits for your brand.
The History Of Branded Video Content
As already mentioned, branded content is not a new concept. It may sound alien, as what we’re most familiar with throughout modern history is the sponsorship model. Brands sponsoring events and sports teams is another thing we’re used to, but if we look back to the early days of advertising, brands were getting involved with radio and TV shows more than we may think.
From the conception of commercial radio in the early 20th century, whole radio shows would be sponsored as a means of generating income for the station. This was a very early example of a brand aligning themselves with the values of a piece of creative output. This then extended to TV with shows such as The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950s) and P&Gs very own soap opera appearing in the 1970s. Although a very early form of branded content, this approach is based on the principle that there are marketing advantages to be gained by aligning a brand with a certain piece of creative output.
As we have marched through history and marketing has taken on many changes, we now find ourselves in the digital world where content is consumed on a mass scale via the internet. The beauty of the situation now is that the sheer range of quality content available, means that branded content can be utilised for even more niche brands.
Digital marketing has revolutionised the idea of targeted advertising through the likes of Facebook advertising. Rather than a few TV and radio channels broadcasting content that appeals to mass markets, online platforms have given rise to niche content that still attracts a mass market.
With Youtube channels such BeardMeetsFood covering the niche area of competitive eating, yet still attracting a few million viewers on a regular basis it’s clear that there is such a wide range of content that can be produced.
On top of this, Netflix shows such as Tidying Up With Marie Condo has brought a fringe interest of Minimalism to large audiences. It has become increasingly clear that high quality, creative content isn’t just restricted to areas that are stereotypically viewed to have mass appeal.
Paying close attention to these trends shows us how there are mass audiences out there, interested in niche topics that brands can align themselves with. Therefore the opportunity for branded content is not restricted to traditional mainstream topics such as sport and fashion, but all sorts of groups which in turn can benefit all businesses and brands.
Examples Of Branded Video Content
So, what does good branded content look like now? A big example that came to my attention recently, was on the Youtube channel ‘Yes Theory’. A personal favourite of mine, Yes Theory combine travel, adventure and self-betterment to develop a community that has spread across the world. A community with shared core values that are clear for all to see.
This clearness, therefore makes it easy for a brand or group to align their values with that of the Youtube channel. In terms of this example, it was Google with their Google Pixel. Yes, this is much, much bigger than most businesses could ever imagine, however, the reason why this is a good example of the strengths of branded content, is because of this Youtube channel has such an active community behind it.
In this piece of branded content, the Google Pixel smartphone is utilised through the video as an aid to their travelling and connecting their community across the world. Unlike a straight up advert, it is interspersed within the content, making the nod to the advertising a lot less harsh and therefore more integrated within the video.
If you watch the video, the branding is not interrupting the content like an advert would. It’s working within it to develop the Google Pixel as a character within the story they are crafting and thus much more acceptable as a piece of advertising.
The key to take from this example is that the content is not specifically produced for that product, it is produced alongside it. The viewers of Yes Theory are still receiving the quality content that they love. Yes, they are aware of the advertising that is taking place, but they are accepting that the integration of the product is fuelling the great content. You therefore generate a warmer feeling towards the advertising as it becomes part of the creation process of something creatively great.
On a smaller level, we see a channel like this using a product to aid the creation of their content. The GoPro is being used to create the content that’s being watched. Therefore the quality of the content directly correlates with the viewer’s view of the product quality. If you like the video then the logical thought is that you like the product.
I hope you see here that although this is a softer approach to marketing, it is all about aligning with creative producers that share your values. This framework is often abused, but when it comes to pieces like these given examples, then the branded element can enhance the content which is turn reflects well on the producer and the brand.
I am very aware that this may just sound like a niche strand of marketing, only useful for specific businesses. However, there are many benefits that branded content has over traditional advertising and they can be gained no matter the size of your business.
First of all, the targeting benefits are spot on. At the point you are commissioning such content, you’ll already know who you want to target. If we look at Youtube for an example, you can search for creators whose content appeals to your audience and matches your values. Once you’ve done this, it’s just a matter of choosing the size of your campaign and you’re away. Branded content delivered straight to an active audience of your choosing.
Secondly, you are involving yourself with a creator who will guarantee you quality content. As long as you like the content previously produced by whoever you’re getting involved with, then you’re onto a winner. You are getting the expertise of an expert content creator, who will produce top quality content and develop ideas that you may never have dreamed of. This content is then available for you to share out to your audience as well as reaching out to theirs.
Finally, this is a much more gentle way of pushing out your brand. Soft doesn’t mean ineffective, it just means that you are not taking any undue risks. Sometimes brashness is the name of the game in marketing, however, often this is not the fit for your brand. If you’re wanting to develop a brand image in the long term, then aligning yourself with quality, creative content that shares your brand values is a great way of doing so.
How It Can Work For You
So, how can branded content be beneficial for your marketing? I’m going to hit you with a few suggestions and why they will be beneficial. I’ll do this from the small to the big, to give an idea of how much scope there is for this form of content.
Starting off small. Inexpensive, but highly effective content is content created by customers and staff. I’m being a bit cheeky with this suggestion as technically this is a slightly different form of content, but packaged in the right way the benefits of branded content are absolutely there.
The basic premise here is giving both your customers and staff the licence to create their own low-budget video content that expresses their relationship with your brand. For customers this could be requesting product reviews, vlogs of their experience with you or creative uses of your products.
For staff this could be giving them the licence for their own vlog, fun low budget adverts, or interviews with other team members. The quality of smartphones allows basic video to be created that are highly personalised and easily optimised to all social channels. You can then simply pick the best, create a series backed by your brand and utilise what will be high volume content to show off the informal nature of your engagement with both customers and staff. An ideal image to put across on social media.
Next up if you wanted to step up production a little, you can look to Youtubers and influencers. This suggestion utilises the benefits of influencer marketing but isn’t as simple as paying an Instagram influencer to post a quick video with your products. What we’re looking for here are quality creators (usually operating across Youtube), who align with your brand values and create content relevant to what you do.
By commissioning a series of videos created by such a creator, you are then gaining the benefits discussed earlier on in the blog. You receive top quality content, that shows off your brand in a very creative way, whilst becoming known for high quality production, which if it suits your brand, is a fantastic association to have.
On top of this, you are tapping into the creator’s audience. Seamlessly sliding your brand into their video without it being an out and out sponsorship, gives you access to a highly specialised and highly engaged audience. If this strategy is pursued long term, you are more likely to develop trust and increasingly benefit from the content.
If the high quality, creative content is exactly what you’re looking for, but don’t want to give up too much creative control, then bringing in a production company to develop your own ideas is the direction to go in.
By doing this you can create a series of your own videos, developed by your own team whilst hitting the high content standards that will be lapped up across the internet. The ideas here are limitless and could be as simple as a mini documentary set in your office, stretching out to setting up external productions that incorporate your customers, suppliers and even notable figures.
The ultimate aim of any high end content creator is to have their content watched for its own value. If you can combine the creative thinking of your own team with the professional ability of a production company, you could well be on the road to developing a hit online series that is 100% associated with your brand.
If all this talk of branded content has whetted your appetite but would like some professional support to get started, conveniently you’re in the right place. Our production team are always keen to take on exciting new projects and produce original content that will take the internet by storm. Drop us a message with your initial thoughts and the type of content you’d like to produce and we’ll dive straight in to make sure you’re on your way to being a top-end content provider.