Despite growth, the development and distribution of branded content has never been as confusing and complicated as it is today. Recognizing this confusion, and the dramatic impact such confusion can have on marketers’ success in the branded content space, I was proud to co-chair a working group of the IAB’s Social Media/Native/Content Committee that came together to help provide much needed clarity on today’s branded content and native ecosystem. The fruits of our labor, IAB’s new Branded Content Creation & Distribution Guide, provides an updated playbook for marketers who want to understand their options and industry best practices across the branded content and native advertising space.
In the process of working on this project, a few key concepts struck me as being far too frequently overlooked by marketers today.
Key Steps Neglected
Even if an organization has already waded into branded content and native advertising mid-stream, it’s never too late to back up and ensure these three key bases are covered:
Step 1: Strategy and KPIs
In my experience, this first step is the one most often skipped by marketers, particularly the KPI part. The clearer these elements are in an RFP for partners, the more likely your partners will deliver for your brand.
Step 2: Content Inventory and Creation Plan
In assessing the ever-important content part of branded content, marketers should focus on two questions: What do you already have? What do you need?
Step 3: Distribution and Activation Plan
Of course, your distribution and activation plan will depend heavily on the types of content assets you create, and it’s useful to be eyeing your distribution plan during the initial strategy phase to ensure your creation plan covers all of its bases.
The Measurement Question
Brands should consider how they want to evaluate their branded content and native advertising success across three key areas: awareness, engagement and consideration. Within each of these three categories, myriad measurable cognitive, emotional and behavioral sub-metrics exist. For many marketers, the most reasonable and easily executed measurement strategy employs web analytics and social analytics to track interactions such as clicks, views, searches and word-of-mouth.
The Importance of Disclosure
I’d wager most publishers and marketers know that the FTC has provided guidelines for identifying native advertising content, and yet, the FTC has called out brands where their disclosure has been deemed inadequate, meaning in instances where the FTC feels that a “reasonable consumer” may not be able to distinguish the copy/video as paid advertising versus it being editorial content. While disclosure language is up to the publishers, advertisers need to understand where their content is appearing and how it is being disclosed. Improper disclosure reflects poorly on the brand as well as the publisher.
For more details on the above elements of a good branded content strategy, along with some great breakdowns of the various distribution formats, check out the IAB’s new Branded Content Creation & Distribution Guide here.