“Imagine if none of us had ever seen a commercial break. Not one. They haven’t been invented yet. Then someone comes with a pitch: ‘So, Mrs CMO, we’ve had an idea. To get your message heard we will pay content channels to pause the series your audience is watching, play our ad then let them go back to the normal programming!’ Which brand in their right mind would ever want to associate themselves with such a terrible user experience? The only reason why we still do it is because there are enough of us out there, old folks who haven’t totally realized things don’t have to be that way. The awakening is happening, though, and there is actually an entire generation who, like the fictional CMO above, has never seen an advertisement until recently.” Chun, Monica. A Cannes Lions Jury Presents: The Art of Branded Entertainment . Peter Owen Publishers. Kindle Edition.
For decades, entertainment companies decided what content consumers had to watch and interrupted the consumers’ experience every 10 minutes to monetize their eyeballs. That was their business model, monetize a content that was forced into the consumer by interrupting their experience.
However, consumers have become less and less responsive to this type of business model over time. They are no longer willing to sit through ads just to get to their entertainment — instead, they find ways to skip it and get to their on-demand content. Companies like Netflix have grown from 20M subscribers in 2012 to 140M subscribers in 2018. And interestingly enough, they have focused their business model to creating engaging on-demand content. Some of these programs contain product placement and other branded entertainment concepts, but for the most part, they focus on the goal of entertaining the viewer without unnecessary promotional material. Since these are paid services, the studios and the services who air the shows make money directly from viewers instead of mainly using advertising revenue.
This concept is one that can be easily applied to the gaming industry. Users don’t want to wait around for an ad to finish playing before they start their game, and they certainly don’t want to be interrupted when they are in the middle of a play session. Instead of opting to play games online, many users prefer to just buy the game outright and download it for play without ads. This is even showing up in the world of mobile gaming, where consumers would rather pay a few dollars for a game without ads instead of downloading a game with ads for free.
So if consumers don’t want to see advertising during their entertainment, can you still use entertainment as a marketing tool? Yes, but the strategy has to change. That’s where branded entertainment comes in. Branded entertainment is media that features the brand directly in the experience of the game or show, instead of taking a break for an ad to play. The brand is part of the content, but in a subtle, authentic way that’s appealing to consumers. The benefits of this are huge — it results in better brand perception and gives viewers more exposure to the brand as well. Branded entertainment is a great way to improve brand recognition and increase sales over time.
It’s not enough for companies to pay for traditional ads anymore. If you really want to make your mark, you need to focus on entertaining your target audience and being a part of their lives in a way that is meaningful. Branded entertainment is poised to change the world of advertising and is an incredible new marketing tool for companies in any industry.
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