Agency perspectives: this is the state and future of branded content

Raconteur is a premium publishing house in the UK that produces special reports for The Times and The Sunday Times, as well as content marketing solutions for brands.

Somethin’ Else is content agency specialising in content such as online video, social and interactive for brands including Red Bull, the BBC, Sky and The Economist.

Ossberg and Ackerman will be on the judging panel for The Drum’s Content Awards

The Drum spoke to them to get their views for FIPP on the current state and the future of branded content, good (and poor) examples of content marketing campaigns and what it takes to create award-winning campaigns.

Do you find brands are still struggling with the concept of branded content?

Freddie Ossberg [FO]: Large global firms typically do it quite well these days I find, simply as they have got the brand and the budgets. Most small and mid-sized businesses however still try and make it an “editorial lead generation” tool and hence produce content optimised for conversion. With the target audience mainly using content for discovery and research, there is a mismatch between product and audience.

Steve Ackerman [SA]: Most brands understand now that content must be part of the marketing mix. The struggle is developing an understanding of the difference between content and traditional advertising. This then throws up challenges for the make-up of the marketing team and ultimately the sort of agencies that brands need to work with. Too many brands are still being hoodwinked by their traditional agencies that are papering over the cracks in their content abilities.

Are there any particularly good examples of branded content that spring to mind?

[FO]: Digitally, Adobe’s is a great example of a brand content hub that seeks to deliver content their audience is looking for, without all the hype and promotion common on most brand experiences. I actually became a fan to this site and for years without knowing it was owned by Adobe. In print, I love Knight Frank’s research reports (Wealth Report, Global Cities etc).

[SA]: The Honda work this year has been excellent and GE continues to do innovative things in the USA.

Likewise what’s been the worst piece of branded content you’ve seen?

[FO]: With a publisher’s hat on, articles that are by-lined by a company’s representative who is then also the single quoted source inside the piece is just criminal. I see them around a lot! Another faux pas I see is conceptual image sourcing (as opposed to editorial) – there are only so many images of mountains one can look at in one sitting.  

[SA]: Too many examples sadly, but it doesn’t feel fair to single out any names!

In your opinion what’s been the biggest milestone of the world of content in the last 12 months?

[FO]: Tough one, I’m not sure I’ve noticed a particular milestone. Possibly that content now makes up about 25% of marketing budgets, making it by far the largest area of marketing spend.

[SA]: There’s not one single moment, but you only have to look at how many agencies are setting up content divisions to know that content has finally arrived as a crucial part of the marketing mix. The purchase of John Brown by Dentsu was also a key moment that I believe will lead to a series of content driven acquisitions in agency land.

As a judge at The Drum Content Awards what are you looking for from in award-winning entries?

[FO]: Content initiatives that rival the very best publishers in terms of originality, quality, production values and that has got longevity.

[SA]: The key is to show evidence of entertaining or engaging the audience as well as a strong understanding of how to strike the balance between a brand’s values and the requirement to provide the audience with content that has editorial worth and integrity.

What are the worst faux pas entrants for awards can make? 

[FO]: Sending in something that is clearly created with marketing objectives in mind and not placing the readers first.

[SA]: Don’t confuse advertising work for content work. That will immediately betray your lack of understanding of this area.

More like this

Wall Street Journal sales boss: Branded content will never be a dominant revenue source

Branded content: taking publisher DNA into a new field

Agency perspectives: this is the state and future of branded content

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x