Powerful argument from Douglas Holt in Harvard Business Review as to why traditional Branded Content does not work anymore.
In essence the rise of new technologies has allowed audiences to opt out of ads. The internet made it much harder for brands to buy fame. Now they have to compete directly with real entertainment.
While companies have put their faith in branded content for the past decade, brute empirical evidence is now forcing them to reconsider. In YouTube or Instagram rankings of channels by number of subscribers, corporate brands barely appear. Only three have cracked the YouTube Top 500. Instead you’ll find entertainers you’ve never heard of, appearing as if from nowhere.
It turns out that consumers have little interest in the content that brands churn out. Very few people want it in their feed. Most view it as clutter—as brand spam. When Facebook realized this, it began charging companies to get “sponsored” content into the feeds of people who were supposed to be their fans.
Beyond Branded Content
This article perfectly summarises why organisations need to focus on content marketing that has intrinsic value – especially as regards video. Ask why would anyone want to watch your branded content? If it lacks real stories, characters, entertainment or value – then probably they do not!
In the age of Netflix and iPhones, your customers and stakeholders are sophisticated digital media consumers in their private lives. Old school content marketing which seeks to push traditional branded content is unlikely to be successful. There is simply too much competition for attention.
Yet digital has led companies to believe that if they delivered branded content via digital channels, they could gather huge engaged audiences around their brands.
Thus was born the great push toward branded content. But its champions weren’t counting on new competition.
Now brands have to compete directly with high quality entertainment.