Branded Content: The New Medium

5 Steps to Creating Your Branded Content Media Strategy

Aptly stated by Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group (LRG), “On-Demand and time shifting TV services like DVR, VOD, and Netflix have permanently changed the way that people can watch TV.” LRG’s 2017 On Demand TV consumer survey reported that 53% of adults have a DVR and 64% of households have a subscription video on-Demand (SVOD) service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu. Furthermore, cable cord cutting hit record numbers with 1.7MM households lost in 2016, and 2017 projected year-end loss is 2MM HHs. Additionally, even when consumers are watching TV, they choose social platforms as a distraction from commercial breaks.

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One obvious application of declining traditional TV consumption is that more commercials are skipped, resulting in TV advertising becoming an unreliable primary mass advertising vehicle, especially if used without other platform augmentation. Since advertising’s effectiveness is measured by reach of the desired consumer, brands should begin understanding how to apply branded content marketing best practices to their businesses now, as an alternative to traditional TV advertising.

Branded content marketing is when brands use TV, Film, Radio, Music or Comedy content as a vehicle to integrate and deliver your message to the consumer. This article will focus on TV and music branded content. Let’s dig deeper.

Why Branded Content Marketing Is Effective?

1) People universally love entertainment.

Music, TV shows and films are passions. Reaching your consumers while they are engaging in their passion points will resonate with them, even if subtly.

2) Entertainment marketing can be less intrusive.

TV advertising is disruptive. Right when you get to the apex of your show, here comes a TV ad. How about if the brand was a part of the show!

3) Consumers are unaware they are being pitched.

Because viewers are deeply engaged in content they have self-elected to consume, your product message reaches them without them knowing that the effort was intentional.

Your Opportunity as a Brand

Given the sheer amount of content out there now — 500 million people watch videos on Facebook daily — it is up to you to identify the best content that engages your existing or potential customer and find the producers and distributors of such content reaching the widest audience. Think of it as product placement 2.0. Said in simple terms, it could be a blogger who creates videos about tech gadgets or beauty products in which you commission them to create a custom video series leveraging your brand throughout. For maximum authenticity, make sure a story is told, vs just pitching or reviewing your brand. Consider a TV network that produces shows appealing to your core demographic, or a record label with a strong roster of acts appealing to your demographic. For instance, Atlantic Records has a GREAT R&B roster, SONY Red has roster of emerging acts, while RCA has some of the nation’s most established acts, which a sophisticated team of partnership marketing professionals.


In 2016, Comedy Central debuted a new long-form advertising model (2–3 mins) with a branded content series called Hand Job, later renamed Handy The Series. This series chronicled an ambitious hand model shooting a variety of commercials for Comedy Central advertisings such as Joe’s Crab Shack, Corona, Kit Kat, Pringles, among more (watch them here). This series is EXTREMELY well done, and you forget you’re watching advertising, but you are. We encourage you to watch to see how masterful branded content is done.

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In a more traditional product integration, 30 Rock does a wonderful job injecting humor into Verizon’s integration delivered by Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. As does Big Bang Theory’s episode depicting Sheldon’s deliberation of Xbox vs PS4 via which product features are presented and evaluated in a way a prospective customer would.

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Music wise, Live Nation is a leader in creating virtual reality content around which brands, like launch brand Citibank, can align. Beats continues to do a great job with integrating their music speakers inside of artist videos including Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga & More. This presents their products directly to their desired end user, which is smart.

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Myriad brands include products in their music videos. And many brands sponsor artist concerts, but to generate branded content, they must negotiate rights to video content (ideally exclusive) that they use socially or otherwise. Infamous Power 105.1 radio station’s The Breakfast Club even includes product integrations in their videos (see example) — we are pretty sure their placements are paid and strategic (although the appearance is a setting). In this instance, these brands could tout, “as seen on The Breakfast Club” and leverage for culture credibility and relevance.

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How To Create An Effective Branded Content Media Strategy?

The number one rule is to get your brand integrated inside the actual content in a meaningful way. Brand integrations best resonate with intended consumers are those which are not disruptive, and are rather additive, organic, authentic, on-brand and relevant to the consumer.

1) Identify your target audience and which categories of entertainment content they consume.

2) Identify specific content vehicles (e.g. tv, film, music, radio) you think best deliver your audience, and whom are in your budget. Create a few ideas for integration with their characters/artists.

3) Tie your ideas to a specific brand or product goal which you can attempt to measure the impact.

4) Contact the content publishers with your idea and budget, at least two quarters in advance.

5) When you launch, spread word about the content play with social and/or experiential marketing efforts to amplify your content alignment.

Disclaimer in Defense of Traditional TV Advertising:

It is important to state that TV advertising is not dead, advertisers spent $178B on global traditional TV advertising, 35% of the market compared with $209 Billion on digital at 41% of the market, and digital’s first-ever lead. And even though, forecasters predict that 50% of advertiser budgets will go to digital by 2020, we’re still talking about a platform that commands hundreds of billions of dollars, which is going nowhere fast.

It’s all in being aware of consumers media content consumption habits, and planning ahead. Note that subscription VOD services have very innovative approaches to ads, including Hulu’s shorter formatted ads or their version of a Volkswagen ad using scenes from Hulu Originals The Mindy Project which aired across comedic content.

Articles cited:

LRG On Demand Survey

Comedy Central Takes on Branded Content

Facebook usage study

Beats Music Content Marketing Strategy

Hulu Advertising Strategy

Live Nation’s Virtual Reality Play

Thank you as always...Looking forward to your thoughts, input and examples. Olivia F. Scott

Written by

Founder, Omerge Alliances. Creator, Freedom At The Mat. Marketing Strategist & Educator (NYU). Mizzou Journalism & Gonzaga University Grad.

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