stop interrupting what people are interested in

December 11, 2017 Audience Insight Lab

Let’s face it, since the beginning of advertising time marketers had the formidable task of reaching audiences who don’t want to listen.

So what did we do —

We responded by making advertising louder, more pervasive and in many cases more annoying

Consumers, or how about we call them “people”, are fed up and they’re not taking it anymore.

According to eMarketer, 1-in-5 US households will not subscribe to cable or satellite TV by 2018. So we say no problem, we’ll reach them online. Think again — Netflix, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV are already ad free, and both Hulu and YouTube have plans to launch ad-free versions later in 2016. Shall we try banner ads and pop-ups instead? That is about to change as well. Approximately 200 million people globally are currently using ad-blocking software when browsing the web — up 50% from 2015! And now that Apple allows users to block ads on the go, more than 800 million IOS users will be immune to interruptive advertising on their phones.

The future of marketing is Branded Entertainment, and the future is already here.

The marketing industry is in the middle of a dramatic shift, and most advertisers are not well equipped to make this change. They’ve invested billions of dollars to build a disruptive advertising presence, and much of that investment has gone toward training a workforce in methods that are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Shifting away from this mindset will require a reorganization of brainpower and resources which take time… and quarterly earnings are notoriously impatient.

One immediate solution is for brands and their agencies to partner with companies that already have an entertainment mindset, and luckily there are plenty of production companies in search of this relationship. Current economic conditions are making it increasingly difficult for original movies and TV shows concepts to gain traction — money tends to flow toward franchise hits with a history of success. So the time is right to make this a match made in heaven. Production studios are strapped for cash, struggling to get their original stories made, and advertisers are being squeezed out of their existing industry through a combination of digital ad-free channels and consumer diminishing attention of traditional advertising.

Defining Branded Entertainment

As a marketing tool, it’s not new and has been around since the early days of P&G’s original soap operas in the 1920s. However, its definition is still ambiguous at best. Doug Scott (Executive Director of branded content at agency Ogilvy & Mather and now at WME | IMG) defines it as “original programming that a brand owns rather than rents, and the storyline or the program subject matter emanates from the brand DNA. Seems clear enough, but the problem is that as the overall quality of TV advertising has fallen, any long-form ad with a storyline is defining its-self as branded entertainment. And let’s face it — a long ad is just a long ad, even if it has some form of story arc.

For me, Branded Entertainment should do just that — ENTERTAIN. Furthermore, it should be likable, creative, meet a brands business objectives, and most importantly it should be good enough to get a prime-time slot on any major TV network. That last part is the toughest part to pull off, but it can be done and is being done. Let’s take a look at a couple of stand out examples.

Entertainment is the new Utility for Brands

San Francisco agency Pereira & O’Dell are driven by a mantra that fits our times: “Think like a marketer. Behave like an entertainer. Move like a tech startup”. And it’s that type of energy and creativity that led them to develop award winning work for Intel (along with co-brand Toshiba computers) and one of the best examples of integrating brand values with story driven entertainment wrapped around media technology.

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