BOBCM: Expert Predictions Report - Best of Branded Content Marketing Volume II


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This report into the future of branded content marketing is an excerpt from the 'Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition' ebook.

Within the report, more than 60 marketing practitioners, authors and academics share their knowledge, opinions and experiences of contemporary and emerging branded content marketing and media around the globe.

We hope that you enjoy this excerpt from the book and that you’re inspired to send us your own thoughts and predictions.

You can download the full edition of the 'Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition' ebook at from 19 March 2014.

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BOBCM: Expert Predictions Report - Best of Branded Content Marketing Volume II

  1. 1. Last year, I asked a number of experts to help me with some crystal ball gazing that resulted in the Expert Predictions chapter of the first edition of the Best of Branded Content Marketing ebook. This year I asked a far broader group of marketing practitioners from around the world what they expect to see change in the next five years, and what they expect will remain the same. The question was prompted by comments made by the analyst, author and founder of Altimeter Group, Charlene Li, who’d pointed out that despite the many different sites, technologies and business models we have today, “the fundamentals of marketing have remained the same as have the challenges.” The question brought a seven-fold increase in response with a mixture of description, prescription and prediction. Because the term ‘content’ straddles so by Justin Kirby VP, Strategic Content Marketing Tenthwave The Future of Branded Content Marketing Plus Ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose The more things change, the more they remain the same ExpertPredictionsReport
  2. 2. many marketing and other disciplines, the responses highlighted the need for a shared lexicon which we hope the industry can move towards. The recently BCMA commissioned research undertaken by Oxford Brookes University, in partnership with Ipsos MORI, which has resulting in the following overarching definition of branded content: "Branded content is any content associated with a brand in the eye of the beholder” This is helpful first step by describing what branded content is generically, but it doesn’t explain the ‘Why’ (in what is the marketing problem it attempts to solve?), nor ‘What’ the branded content specifics might be for the different variations of ‘Whom’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’. There’s also the important question of ‘How’ any success might be measured. We hope what follows, and the case studies we have featured in the Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition, will start to address some of these issues. No-one has all of the answers yet, but we also hope the responses and points raised will also provide a frame of reference for marketers to better navigate a path through the many challenges ahead. 2
  3. 3. SECTION 1 The Yin Yang of Branded Content Marketing Jan Godsk of ideatakeway and Chairman, BCMA Scandinavia, believes that branded content and content marketing may be two different categories. He uses the term ‘branded content marketing’ as we have done with the title of this ebook to point out that it has brand on one side, marketing on the other, and content in the middle. Jan Godsk
 BCMA Scandinavia “Talking about branded content and content marketing, I think it’s all about one word that connects both, and that’s the word content.”
  4. 4. Branded Content On the brand side, Jan suggests we think of this as being more irrational and focused around our impressions, such as whether we like a brand or share their values. Branded content campaigns are more likely to be conducted upstream as part of an engagement approach rather than to just drive awareness in the traditional AIDA funnel. The term is often associated with longer-form video-based output from more creative advertising disciplines where audiences are engaged with entertainment-type content that resonates emotionally. This helps shift brand preferences and consumer behaviours. In theory, the less USP- focused you become, the more your branded content will emotionally involve people. Content Marketing On the marketing side, Jan proposes we think about this as being based around the product/service USP, with the content being more rational and informative. Content marketing campaigns are often conducted downstream in what McKinsey & Company call the customer decision journey, with ROI more focused on lead-generation and sales. Looking at content marketing in this way helps explain why some prefer the term ‘brand publishing’, why it is often used within a B2B context, its close connection to Search Engine Optimisation, and the formats most commonly used: • Blogs • E-newsletters • Case studies • Press releases • ebooks • White papers • Infographics • Webinars • Podcasts 4
  5. 5. And Branded Entertainment? The term ‘branded entertainment’ is used by some to describe branded content marketing campaigns where the product is more integrated into the content. That’s why the term is often used in connection with formats such as advertiser funded programming (AFP) that use more traditional media like TV, radio and even film and often overlap with product placement and sponsorship. This type of approach is evolving as we have showcased with the case study in the Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition where Unilever’s Surf brand borrowed the attributes from ITV’s ‘The only way is Essex’ (TOWIE) TV show to extend their association with it by creating exclusive, engaging and entertaining content. Branded Content And Content Marketing: Two Sides Of The Same Content Coin The Yin Yang image is a simple way of illustrating that the two approaches are two sides of the same coin, but seemingly based on different intent that shapes the output, engagement and distribution approaches. As Mark Welland explains, it also shows how other disciplines can be accommodated as part of the mix. 5 Mark Welland
 New Media Works “In the future, I’m sure, as within most disciplines, branded content marketing will begin to fracture and divide into more specialist areas. New platforms and ways of engaging will drive the process on the back of services that users wish to be a part of. This will need new language to describe the areas and will hopefully lead to better ways of describing the broader discipline.”
  6. 6. SECTION 2 Strategic Considerations Some of the response from experts focused less on the future, and more on the strategic considerations that brands need to be thinking about with regard to branded content marketing. We’ve grouped these in themes to provide a context for the predictions in the following sections. “I often hear the cry “We need a social media strategy” when what is really needed first is a customer engagement strategy based on content.” Dave Chaffey CEO Smart Insights
  7. 7. The 3 Circles of Branded Content Marketing diagram on the right is a helpful prompt to start thinking about practice more holistically. The diagram was inspired by the Three Pillars of Connected Marketing model developed by Idil Cakim, the analyst and author of Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing. As Dave Chaffey at Smart Insights explains, content and social media marketing have become the de facto way of explaining customer engagement approaches and so it’s “unfortunate” that these are too often considered separately. He says what is needed is a “customer engagement strategy based on content”. Idil’s model shows how these can be unified. I’ve adapted Idil’s model to provide a prompt for thinking through the following questions as part of developing a branded content marketing strategy: • What kind of branded content is created (or co-created) by ‘Who’ and for ‘Whom’? • How is engagement managed? • How is content distributed? (i.e. ‘Where’ in the converged landscape of earned, owned and paid media, and ‘When’ in the customer decision journey?) • How is the success of the different parts and their sum measured? These are also useful questions for analysing the predictions in the following sections, as are these strategic considerations raised by contributors: 7 THREE CIRCLES OF BRANDED CONTENT MARKETING DISTRIBUTION CONTENT (CO)CREATION ENGAGEMENT MANAGEMENT MEASUREMENT
  8. 8. We are media Chris Gorell Barnes at Adjust Your Set suggests that we’re also moving from a world where mass media ruled to one where the masses themselves are the media: “People not only decide what, when and where they want to consume media, but also whether or not the message is passed on.” Your brand is a social construct that you no longer control That’s why Bjoern Asmussen at Oxford Brooks University thinks that marketers will increasingly realise that brands “are best understood as socially constructed organisms”. They will consist of “all kinds of brand meanings, brand manifestations and brand stakeholders, such as consumers, employees, competitors, suppliers, pressure groups and the media.” so get yourself invited, don’t just buy your way in Blended Republic’s Chris Sice thinks that right now, “too many brands follow an outdated ‘push’ content model. They create content and look to ‘buy’ audiences.” Chris Gorell Barnes adds that “if a brand wants to be a part of this world they must be invited in – you can’t buy your way in.” or just try and catch the next 
 big wave Branded content is also “no longer about client strategies or wanting to be in on the next big wave” according to Vodafone’s Melissa Hopkins. She says it is now “simply a news provider, a conversation piece, a portal for stimulation, with a brand discreetly behind it.” Melissa believes only the brave brands understand this. and ensure that your branded content marketing strategies are truly consumer-centric Chris Gorell Barnes predicts that “the brands that will thrive in this new world will be those that put the needs of the consumer at the heart of what they do.” Max Garner at Aegis Media adds that “authentic and constant consumer- centric behaviour from a brand will always be the best way to aid success in our rapidly changing convergent media world.” For Patricia Weiss of the BCMA’s South American Chapter this means creating branded content in all formats and platforms that are personally relevant for consumers, so that brands move from a media-centric approach to one based on human context where the “consumer is the protagonist and hero of every story.” 8
  9. 9. and that your branding is aligned with your branded content marketing strategy Veteran advertiser turned brand consultant Robert Bean explained that what were once walls that companies could control have now become windows as a result of the digital explosion, and anyone can see into an organisation from any number of vantage points. As such it “behoves brands or companies generally to sharpen up their act and decide who they are and what they’re about and be true to themselves in a way that they’ve never really had to before.” This means branding needs to start from the inside out, so that the people within the business are aligned around what they are trying to do and create a culture that produces a commensurate product that when managed properly results in a commensurate reputation. or you’ll get found out! Put another way, Robert thinks digital is a great way of exposing organisations that are “disorganisations” for want of a better term. Brands can no longer get away with trying to project an image that attempts to engineer a reputation. In summary, brands cannot “fake” another five years, believes Jan Godsk. Welcome to the rise of the narrative brands Robert Bean’s inside-out branding approach is based on the alignment of a brand’s culture, product or service, and reputation around what he calls the ‘Single Organising Principle’. This provides a clear sense of purpose of what a brand does. 9 PERSONAL RELEVANCE DRIVING PURPOSE CULTURAL CONTEXT WHERE SOCIAL SHOULD LIVE THREE TENETS OF NARRATIVE BRANDS
  10. 10. Purposeful content and alignment are themes that are raised in the following section, as is the importance of storytelling. My colleagues at Tenthwave produced the diagram above that is helpful for thinking about how branding can be aligned with a branded content marketing strategy. It’s based around the idea that the strongest social brands are described as ‘narrative brands’, i.e. brand storytelling that combines the following: Driving Purpose As Tenthwave’s Gretchen Ramsey explains, a purpose is simply a tangible reason for being a brand (why the brand exists): “It's that flag in the ground, that rally cry that everything ladders to and that is visible and visceral throughout the entire consumer experience.” For example, Red Bull's purpose in simple terms is ‘adventure’. Cultural Context A cultural context ensures that the brand is culturally relevant. Gretchen believes that in practice this means capturing macro and micro cultural trends. A branded content marketing strategy must be developed with these cultural factors in mind. Another way of looking at cultural context was highlighted in a comment made by the dotcom pioneer Joe Kraus of Excite fame in a BBC interview last year: “If the 20th century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers, then the 21st century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers.” Unruly’s Barney Worfolk- Smith talks about interacting with people through “fractured passion centres.” The Duck Tape ‘Race of Gentlemen’ campaign is a good example of how a brand got itself invited to a very culturally relevant ‘fractured passion centre’. Personal Relevance As Patricia Weiss explains, if your branded content is interesting for your audience, “they will be interested in it.” Being personally relevant is behind the ‘passion’ in the fractured passion centres that Barney talks about. Gretchen Ramsey believes personal relevance is at a “nascent stage” but a feed customised for the individual user could include helpful personal visualised data (think loyalty programming and smart CRM), geo-context as well as social graph integration. (see more on this theme in the More Platforms, Devices & Personalisation section.) We hope that you find this introduction to the following predictions both interesting and useful. The ideas presented here provide a backdrop to our contributors’ thoughts on what they expect to see change in the next five years and what they expect will remain the same. 10
  11. 11. SECTION 3 What Will Change Branded content at the heart of every marketing strategy As the CIPR’s Stephen Waddington explains, “Content is the drum beat of engagement between a brand and its publics”. But the ability of content “to draw people in naturally through entertaining, emotionally engaging messaging” is why Pereira & O’Dell’s creative chief PJ Pereira believes that “branded content will continue to feature in more and more client strategies” helping to “develop deeper relationships with audiences”. Publicis Slovenija’s Uroš Goričan also thinks we can expect brands to put “more emphasis on branded content in their marketing strategy.” Andrew Canter
 BCMA “We definitely feel the future of branded content is very exciting. And if 2013 was anything to go by we’re going to see a rapid increase in the number of brands using branded content as the core of their marketing.” image©BBPMedia/Giuseppe
  12. 12. Driven by digital and social The BCMA’s Andrew Canter predicts that, by 2019, branded content will be at the heart of every campaign, driven by the growth of digital technologies and social media. and stand-out examples Romelle Swire’s Chris Smith predicts that the stand-out branded content campaigns we’ve seen during 2013 will both increase industry awareness for the approach and drive more examples. Chris specifically mentioned work by Amazon, Chipotle and Heineken, but other examples cited by experts include Red Bull ‘Stratos Mission to the Edge of Space’, Coca-Cola’s ‘Small World Machines’, and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico’s ‘The Most Popular Song’ (also see Jan Godsk and John McDermott). and more standardised procedures Branded Entertainment Online’s (BEO) Sandra Freisinger-Heinl thinks that there will always be those stand-out du jour examples, but it’s “more standardised procedures” that will encourage the adoption of entertaining branded content marketing approaches.   Moving across the spectrum, to become less isolated and more integrated MEC’s Chantal Rickards sees the next five years as an exciting time with content moving “across the spectrum”. Sky MEDIA’s Jason Hughes thinks we’ll see a greater joining of the dots over the next five years between the linear and non-linear world to a point where “branded content campaigns transcend TV, online, social, POS with the overall activation far greater than the sum of its parts.” and not just an afterthought Red Bee Media’s Michael Reeves thinks we’re still at the point where branded content is being commissioned in isolation as an afterthought once the more traditional marketing has been set. However, he thinks brands will learn to plan branded content alongside other disciplines in order to get the maximum effect, so that it can lead to or become the “central articulation of a brand or communication idea.” Becoming the communication norm across the organisation Stephen Waddington believes the shift will go further so that what he describes as “content development” will move beyond marketing communications to “become the communication norm for all operational areas of an organisation.” but more risks still need to be taken Jason Hughes expects “a tipping point where the penny will drop around the real value and power branded content delivers way beyond traditional media valuation”, so that it “becomes the norm centrepiece of every campaign.” 12
  13. 13. NEW (OPEN AND COLLABORATIVE) AGENCY MODELS WILL EMERGE The social media strategist Jadis Tillery predicts that “collaboration will be the name of the game” in the brave new world of branded content. Compelling stories can be created that evolve “dynamically thanks to the consumer shaping the story itself.” Somethin’ Else’s Steve Ackerman thinks we’ll also see “content strategists and content creators coming together to form new agencies.” Here are some other predictions along similar lines: Publishers as agencies Patricia Weiss who heads up the BCMA’s South American Chapter thinks native advertising looks set to “become the starlet in the blurred lines between ads and content”. She sees publishers becoming more agency-like, working directly with brands through the creation of in-house “branded content divisions, paid media operations, brand strategy units and digital production services.” Agency-facilitated brand alliances with publishers Forrester’s Ryan Skinner sees brands regularly building “quasi-official alliances with each other and publishers, usually facilitated by an agency, to collectively produce a compelling digital experience.” More and different kinds of celebrity partnerships Sean ‘Diddy’ Coombes’ recent JV with Diageo suggests that celebrity talent partnerships will continue to play a key role in branded content. For Jadis Tillery this is not just about “the loyal and sizeable fan base they can mobilise for a brand, but as dynamic content creators and media owners in their own right.” That said, United Agent’s Joanna Scarratt thinks that a social media following is becoming an increasingly important factor, and as a result we’ll start seeing new highly paid social superstars. 13 “Native Advertising will become the starlet in the blurred lines between ads and content, by reinventing the business of publishing and snatching the emerging markets. A growing number of publishers will create their own branded content divisions, paid media operations, brand strategy units and digital production services, in-house. More often, they will be hiring publishers to create content on their behalf.” Patricia Weiss
 Chairman and Founder
 BCMA South America
  14. 14. New (open source) business models Crispin Reed at UK Fusion Learning thinks we’ll see “more and more interesting collaborations between brands when it comes to content marketing.” He cites Google’s acquisition of smart thermostat brand Nest as a way they can enter the “home through a different door.” The convergent home is not a new idea, but for Crispin it’s an indication of a more “imaginative coming together of brands to deliver branded content”. BCMA’s Chairman Morgan Holt thinks that the combining of micropayments and user content channel technology platforms would be interesting. so that lines will continue to be blurred until there are none left The strategist Sarah Farrugia predicts that “those who really understand social media and the importance of truth and human connections will increasingly use the multiplying and diverse channels in more and more interesting ways - blurring the lines until there are no lines anymore.” BUT NEW SKILLSETS WILL BE REQUIRED As the online revolution outstrips marketing knowledge, Joanna Scarratt at United Agents thinks that no-one quite yet knows how to exploit branded content properly. She thinks that this is because the “speed of the online revolution, and development of platforms, has outstripped marketing knowledge.” new skill sets required Mike Arauz at Undercurrent recently wrote about The New Digital Strategist’s Skill Set that’s moved from the T-shape of having to know a little about a lot and a lot about a little to the square-shape of now having to know a lot about a lot. 14 “A platform (YouTube, for example) could host brands that were prepared to open their assets to the general public and see what people did with them. This would give creators license to rethink the brand's meaning and create a whole new presence for the brand itself.” Morgan Holt
  15. 15. to understand culture better Gretchen Ramsey at Tenthwave mentions how dramatically and quickly specialised areas shift in digital, which is why she thinks we have “a duty to understand culture on a new level, as it’s intimately tied with our ability to plan relevance.” and social behaviour OgilvyEntertainment’s Doug Scott thinks that “agencies need to hire behavioural economists and creative technologists as well as individuals that truly understand social interaction.” For him this goes “well beyond the social media specialist.” The dawn of the pi-shaped data storytellers? In a recent interview by Renegade’s CEO Drew Neisser with Econsultancy's CEO Ashley Friedlein on PSFK, the pi-shaped data storytelling marketer was discussed. For Ashley the pi-shaped skillset isn’t about expecting people to know about everything (square) it’s more about having a “wide breadth of skills and knowledge across various marketing disciplines, but crucially possessing both left-brain and right-brain abilities”. As Ashley goes on to explain, it’s about being analytical and data-driven on one hand, but also “understanding brands, storytelling and experiential marketing.” REAL TIME AND AGILE Unruly’s COO Sarah Wood sees new tools emerging that will help support the macro-trend of real-time content marketing and allow marketers to become more ‘agile’. This is where brands become “newsrooms for their niche” and invest to support “content discovery, content curation and content creation” to compete for consumers’ mind share on social platforms. or something more additive? Digiday’s John McDermott hopes that “brands will move away from their real- time marketing obsession and create 15 “Agencies need to hire behavioural economists and creative technologists as well as individuals that truly understand social interaction. This goes well beyond the "social media specialist" who claims to understand how to evoke more tweets out of a post.” Doug Scott
  16. 16. something more substantive and lasting.” He cites the “mesmerising” Volvo Trucks ‘Epic Split’ campaign with Jean-Claude Van Damme as well as the “legitimately helpful” Lowe’s ‘Fix in Six Vines’. Evolving beyond real-time opportunism Tenthwave’s Gretchen Ramsey points to an “evolution from real-time opportunism to the storytelling model”, but asks “how many digital agencies are set up to manage a meaningful narrative duty?” She suggests what’s needed is a “new model of strategic creative where teams of (visual) storytellers lead brand tales, not just ideas ‘with legs’.” and being more creative, experimental and iterative Being more agile doesn’t necessitate working in real-time, or the setting-up of newsrooms with staff and enabling technology, it can simply mean being iterative. For DigitasLBi’s creative head honcho Chris Clarke, what is more important than anything else is “creative excellence, a fluid relationship with talent and a willingness to experiment.” He adds that brands can become “part of culture rather than in the (ad) breaks between culture”. THE RISE AND RISE OF STORYTELLING It's not really a prediction, but the importance of storytelling was the most consistent theme to emerge from expert responses. As Mumbrella’s Sean McKeown points out, “brands are already seeing the value gained from this format and will continue to invest more of their marketing budgets in its development.” More authentic, entertaining and engaging Advertisers must find better ways to build trust, as raised by Paul Bay at Citizenbay in last year’s ebook. Paul pointed out that the gap between promise and delivery is 16 “I hope — that brands will move away from their real-time marketing obsession and create something more substantive and lasting. The Volvo Trucks/Jean Claude Van Damme video is mesmerising and the Lowe’s Fix in Six Vines are legitimately helpful. Seems a lot more additive than tweeting nonsense during the Super Bowl.” John McDermott Staff Writer Digiday
  17. 17. still wide, and that’s why advertisers are still less trusted than politicians. ISBA’s Mario Yiannacou thinks that one way of building trust is to ensure that messages are completely clear whatever format they’re in. Stan Joseph of Ochre Moving Pictures suggests the creation of more authentic and entertaining story-based content “will continue to be the hallmark of great branded content.” and purposeful content For Tony Chow at What's your Story Inc in Singapore it’s all about the creation of purposeful content, and he sees more and more brands using story-based branded content as a key engagement tool. that resonates emotionally In last year’s ebook, Sarah Wood explained that testing what works and optimising the performance of branded content isn't just about using data to make decisions and refine campaigns in real-time, it's also about emotions. She predicted that the brands that succeed in the future will be the ones creating content that elicits a powerful emotional response from their audience. In longer and more digital formats
 MEC’s Chantal Rickards sees more traditional formats like advertiser funded programing (AFP) being on the wane, at least in the UK. But she thinks “digital continues to offer myriad opportunities, especially where the content can travel across many platforms and engage viewers in clever, dynamic and engaging ways.” She also thinks we’ll see more brands becoming more adventurous and funding longer-form content like movies and feature documentaries. and more involving, less interruptive Patricia Weiss believes that audiences will become even more intelligent and sophisticated as their lives become increasingly social in a “hypermediatic” world, and that this is becoming “more visual and involving, and less intrusive and interruptive”. original content funded and distributed by brands Stan Joseph sees brands becoming significant funders and distributors of original content over the next five years, taking “their place at the table alongside broadcasters, distributors and IP owners.” Joanna Scarratt also thinks the landscape will change dramatically. She sees brands becoming both broadcasters and content makers. She cites other platforms like Netflix’s funding of ‘House of Cards’, as well as film competition initiatives like Grolsch's ‘Film Works’, or Bombay Sapphire's’ ‘Imagination Series’. 17
  18. 18. Making good stories more important than ever to cut through the content clutter Doug Scott thinks, “Great stories are becoming critical. Right now I would say that from an economic standpoint there is an oversupply of content.” But storytelling changes everything about how brands go to market In my recent interview with UM’s Chief Content officer Scott Donaton, he explains how he thinks that brand storytelling is a strategic, disciplined approach to marketing that actually changes everything about how brands go to market. MORE PLATFORMS, DEVICES AND PERSONALISATION Experts discussed a whole host of new platforms and devices that are either already being used, or on the horizon, including Google Glass with augmented reality, other wearable tech, or perhaps even the ports in our heads for faster upload/download that Doug Kessler predicts. Uroš Goričan thinks that these will “enable brands to connect with customers via content in an even more exciting and creative way.” It will become more personalised Leo Burnett’s James Kirkham predicts that in five years the content people engage with will become more relevant and tailored. He thinks that it won’t be recognised as traditional advertising, but “more as opt-in personalised content.” Pulled not pushed, and more contextual Doug Scott sees content being “pulled by consumers based on their unique preferences and habits.” ISBA’s Mario Yiannacou also thinks targeting will make a step change that will benefit brand owners but also consumers by giving them messages they want to receive. 18 “Brands are going to have to change their processes and do something marketers don’t like to do and don’t do easily. They have to change the skill sets of the people they hire. They have to change the time frames they work on. They have to change the way they allocate and think about budgets. They have to change their definition of creativity.” Scott Donaton
 Chief Content Officer
  19. 19. Doug suggests that the tailored content will be “contextually related to a brand's key product and/or core message”. For Max Garner at Aegis, context is also key, and the linking of “the right content for the right device juxtaposed with the right type of brand to consumer interaction at the right time.” But as DigitasLBI’s Chris Clarke points out, “more than anything, just as it is now, brands will need to recognise that a set of marketing messages plays very poorly alongside the latest box set.” Content shifts triggered by mobile, shared by the second screen, and expanded through smart displays For Doug Scott these shifts will be triggered by mobile (which he believes is now the first screen), and then shared on the living room screen, as well as being expanded through public out-of-home advertising (OOH) smart displays. Patricia Weiss believes the endless willingness of audiences to participate live in networked culture will “expand the non-linear conversation around the content”, and drive SocialTV, second screen and real-time marketing initiatives. This will in turn increase the production of ‘event TV’ programmes, especially reality shows where “the audience fully participates and feels like the true winner.” Samantha Glynne at Publicis Entertainment also thinks “TV will have a resurgence and new forms of live and social events will become popular.” Eventually moving off screen to become part of our branded life James Kirkham sees branded content moving off screen to become things “like making a branded gesture mnemonic to access the brand”, e.g. “tracing out the Heineken star when you walk into a bar to access content or order a beer.” For James this is about thinking of the future less in terms of branded content and 19 “I think one of the most important changes in the next five years is going to come with the maturation of the millennial adult who is going to quickly become the most powerful consumer, literally ever.” Eric Schwamberger Partner Tenthwave
  20. 20. more about “your branded life.” This may be more relevant to some generations than others, particularly with the maturation of the millennial adult, according to Tenthwave’s Eric Schwamberger. Optimisation will become the norm Katy Howell at immediate future explains that “social will increase the volume, but also reduce the size: as audiences (and mobile) demands bite-sized, digestible and continuous content.” As such, “optimisation of content will be the norm, as brands look to justify content investment.” Putting distribution at the heart of any strategy Blended Republic’s Chris Sice thinks brands place too much emphasis on creating content, but are often ignorant of distribution and the “boundary-less nature” of platforms like Facebook and YouTube. He thinks this presents huge opportunities and so in future distribution thinking will be at the heart of their strategy. He adds that brands need to learn to act like media owners to attain the desired ROI. Samantha Glynne at Publicis Entertainment adds that as “confidence grows in the qualitative role of branded entertainment, brands will be braver in trying all platforms and media.” and developing their own media Mumbrella’s Sean McKeown thinks that although “social media will continue as an important distribution platform, brands will need to invest in platforms of their own that provide greater connection with audiences.” Jadis Tillery agrees we’ll see brands “fully embrace the multimodal nature of the social web” while also becoming “owners in their own right.” Blurring the lines between earned and owned media with the rise of “fractured passion centres” and content curation Barney Worfolk-Smith of Unruly sees brands interacting with people through what he calls “fractured passion centres” that is discussed in the Strategic Considerations section. Barney’s idea provides the basis for more opportunities of co-creation between brands and their fans. It will also potentially blur the lines between earned and owned media if brands start to curate their fan content in the way that Unruly’s Sarah Wood mentions. This very much tallies with the content ideas around cultural brands that Daniel Bô at QualiQuanti discusses, and informs the thinking behind Tenthwave’s ‘Race of Gentlemen’ campaign. With customer stories becoming more important than brand ones In last year’s ebook, Citzenbay’s Paul Bay discussed how the democratisation of content would change the media content model. Paul predicted that branded content marketing would become less about pushing content and more about listening to your customers’ stories and 20
  21. 21. amplifying these. He pointed out that storytelling implies that brands or their agencies are still the authors of the narrative. He thought this downplayed the increasingly important role that the customer narrative plays. and the need for earned media planning MRY’s David Berkowitz highlights how earned media planning might need to consider the most cost-effective and value-added alternatives to investing in fully technology-enabled newsrooms. Learn to make the most of wearable tech When it comes to next-gen advertising, Unruly’s COO Sarah Wood thinks brands will need to navigate the opportunities and challenges presented by not only wearable technology, but also smart- appliances. and navigate through the Internet of things and hyper geo-location Welcome to the world of the ‘Internet of things’, and the possibility of hyper-geo- located targeting. For example, Sarah predicts “sausage ads as you open your fridge, replaced by porridge oats ads if your cholesterol reading is high, or an ad for sunscreen displayed on your smartwatch if the UV rays are high when you open your front door. Relevance and utility will be key to success.” via mobile to an increasingly screen-less world As Mumbrella’s Sean McKeown points out, mobile will play an integral part in the transition to “location-based marketing and content distribution.” But Leo Burnett’s James Kirkham predicts “an increasingly screen-less world, less about desktop computers and more about an Internet of things.” James thinks we need to be thinking “more about how content will be engaged with or interacted with wherever we are whenever we want to.” 21 “Adapted, evolved content tailored and personal to you - just like we are recognised through cookies - will instead be you the user recognised through talent talking to you, directly to you as part of a pre-orchestrated pre-determined image.” James Kirkham Global Head: 
 Social & Mobile Leo Burnett
  22. 22. to interact with a brand construct James Kirkham predicts a future where the personalisation and tailoring of content includes live conversation with a brand construct. Becoming more programmatic and marketing as service orientated Doug Scott sees the evolving approach to programmatic (and more algorithmic) marketing “will engage consumers in an ongoing dialogue with brands, providing richer stories and greater insights - ultimately leading to smarter data and fuelling big emotional experiences.” Drew Neisser at Renegade thinks “these are the best of times for CMOs who approach marketing as a service opportunity rather than a messaging one.” This customer-centric approach “only gets better with the advent of big data and programmatic media,” since it is so much easier to provide personalised and relevant content in real-time.  and requiring a whole lot more computational power Charlene Li points out that in five years’ time “we'll have the computational power of IBM's Watson in a form factor that will fit in our pocket - and we'll need it given the explosion of data.” to get back to where we started from Meanwhile, older media such as radio and book publishing have been going through their own digital revolutions. Folded Wing’s Karen Pearson highlights “nine out of 10 people listen, engage and interact with radio, and do so across an ever-growing selection of digital platforms.” This provides a whole host of opportunities, especially as now “listeners want to 'see' radio as much as hear it,” which Karen points out offers “additional exclusive visual content that people can share with their friends”. 22 “9 out of 10 people listen, engage and interact with radio, and do so across an ever- growing selection of digital platforms. So branded audio content of the future needs to engage with audiences across a wide variety of different platforms, including DAB, mobile, tablets, podcasts and online platforms.” Karen Pearson CEO and Founder Folded Wing
  23. 23. Brands have been slow to embrace the ebooks publishing revolution, and leverage distribution channels like Amazon, iBookstore, or aggregators like Smashwords, and social reading sites. Enhanced media ebooks, like this one, provide great opportunities to tailor relevant branded content for platforms like tablets in a format that can engage people for longer periods. MEASUREMENT, ANALYTICS AND THE RISE OF EMPATHETIC/ EMOTIONAL MARKETING There’s no shortage of industry measurement standard initiatives The changing media landscape doesn’t just have an impact on the way that brands need to rethink the way they conduct their marketing, but also how they measure it, not least because of the growing number of datapoints that are now available and being used.  The challenges this poses are highlighted by the growing number of initiatives trying to develop industry standards for social media measurement. We have also seen the emergence of innovative new ways to measure branded content, with the BCMA's proprietary measurement tool, contentmonitor run by Ipsos MORI, which demonstrates the effectiveness of branded content.  bringing rigour, but often driven by measurement tools Kami Watson Huyse thinks these initiatives, while bringing more rigour to social media measurement, “will most likely be driven instead (in the near term) by the tools developed to do the measurement.” This might put the cart before the horse. and so there’s a danger of measuring data for the sake of it The CIPR’s Stephen Waddington thinks it is easy to fall into the trap of measuring things for the sake of it. For Stephen the only real way of determining the value of your investment is to measure outcomes, “Everything else is a proxy at best, but there are organisations, such as AMEC with its Social Media Valid Framework and Google with its Zero Moment of Truth, that are doing some good work in this area and helping us to grow up.” rather than look at how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts As Ian Wright at Tapestry Research points out, “the fragmented media landscape means that we’re faced with this dual challenge of really understanding at a micro-level how individual channels or touchpoints are working, but also at a holistic level, how they all fit together.” This is a tough challenge, but Ian believes “we’re getting smarter at meeting it through a combination of small-scale qualitative insight, big data observation and survey- based interpretation.” 23
  24. 24. More accountability and analysis required Former Ipsos MORI Research Director Stewart Thomson and others see a growing demand “for rigorous measurement of the impact of branded content campaign elements on the goals of the overall campaign. Essentially, brand owners will demand to know if the branded content pulled its weight and justified their investment.” Katy Howell also thinks we will see a significant increase in the level of analysis that will be expected, particularly analysis “often in real-time that identifies the content that travels on trend, attracts attention and gets shared.” with new tools and skills getting more sophisticated According to Uroš Goričan, we’re likely to see more effort put into developing the right set of tools to measure efficacy. And here are some examples: Improved semantic analysis Minter Dial sees both listening tools and skills getting more sophisticated, particularly with regard to semantic analysis. Predictive modeling for a better sense of who wants what   David Berkowitz sees brands employing more sophisticated predictive models “to determine what people want when they want it.” and understanding the value of what they share But more importantly, David thinks “brands will have a much better understanding of the kinds of value of what they share” as well as better sense of what their audience wants and likes. 24 “One of the biggest differences that we’re going to see is as we get into more predictive fields right. Brands and agencies trying to predict what content people are going to respond to and how they’re going to respond. And even predict which ways that they’re going to want to respond in turn.” David Berkowitz CMO MRY
  25. 25. and the better targeting of ‘material’ Minter Dial predicts “better targeting of the ‘material’ as marketers come to understand better their audience and the real influencers, and on which platforms and devices they are congregating.” and more creative scope for crafting messages Mario Yiannacou thinks that deeper data will also “make it easier to ‘dial in’ to consumers’ frequencies, allowing more creative scope for crafting messages.” with emotional data becoming ubiquitous As Sander Saar at AOL explains, emotional data has already started to be measured through facial recognition software to understand emotions, reactions, heart rate, gestures, etc, but we have a long way to go. As technologies advance, response could be tracked live across different platforms and devices, and mapped not just to a particular demographic on a network, but also to the available psychographic and ultimately behavioural data. and tracking through to purchase Max Garner thinks “convergence means that content and the point of transaction are also moving closer than ever, so not only do brands have to still inform, entertain and delight with their content but they also have to ensure that where relevant a journey to purchase is easy, smooth and importantly unforced should the consumer so desire it.” without requiring the capture of lead data Ryan Skinner predicts that “businesses will abandon the practice of capturing lead data as enough non-personal identifying data can be captured without it.” 25 “The more that media can be delivered on an individual basis and therefore become disaggregated, then that whole way of thinking is going to be challenged. It will become much more about what people do than what audience group they are in. This changes everything in terms of how media works and who should be on the team to deliver and evaluate it.” Tim Foley MD pointlogic
  26. 26. and valuing individuals based on purchase probabilities Tim Foley at pointlogic thinks that market research will get turned on its head by the explosion of more data. He predicts we won’t be aggregating audiences around their demographics, but will instead be “valuing individuals based on purchase probabilities”; and as he points out “this changes everything in terms of how media works and who should be on the team to deliver and evaluate it.” Brands will demand more bespoke metrics More brands will want and be able to develop bespoke metrics that are linked to their specific brand challenges. This will lead the industry into more meaningful discussion than those surrounding ‘working’ and ‘non-working’ dollars, and possibly away from the preoccupation with reach-type metrics that were designed for traditional mass communications. In the meantime, longer-term view may be required The BCMA’s Andrew Canter accepts that measuring the ROI for branded content can be a challenge right now, but argues that brands should take a longer-term view and rethink what is being measured and why. He sees branded content marketing as an investment, that will often pay back in the mid-long term rather than having an immediate impact. but you can start with a simple tracker survey The analyst and author Idil Cakim explains that “marketers can show the value of branded content by keeping tabs on how brand perceptions shift among those exposed to such content.” She points out that a “simple tracker survey can provide this insight.” The key she says is “to be disciplined about asking consumer feedback and be ready to shift gears depending on how such content resonates with audiences.” 26 “Marketers can show the value of branded content by keeping tabs on how brand perceptions shift among those exposed to such content. A simple tracker survey can provide this insight. The key is to be disciplined about asking consumer feedback and be ready to shift gears depending on how such content resonates with audiences.” Idil Cakim Analyst + author Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing
  27. 27. SECTION 4 What Won't Change Somewhat tellingly, experts have significantly less to say about what they think will remain the same in five years than what they think will change. Here’s the round-up of the responses: It’ll still be all about relationships Despite the brave new world of branded content marketing that we’ve already seen predicted, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li still thinks “marketing fundamentals will remain the same, namely that the relationship with customers and clients will be built one person at a time.”  We shouldn’t get “blinded by the light of bright shiny objects to ever, ever forget that relationships are paramount.” Strategy starts with the data The BCMA’s Andrew Canter thinks that what will still be of the utmost importance is that “the strategy for any branded content campaign is based on deep and meaningful consumer insight strategies”, and that means starting with the data. Charlene Li
 Altimeter Group “We can’t be blinded by the light of bright shiny objects to ever, ever forget that relationships are paramount.”
  28. 28. But go beyond the desk to find real insight and opportunities The advances in analytics and listening platforms that have been predicted suggest that it will still be the few that go beyond desktop and dashboard. This remains a missed opportunity for those that don’t, because analytics might tell you the ‘What’ and ‘Where’, but they don’t tell you the ‘Why’. As Gretchen Ramsey, VP, Strategy at Tenthwave, points out, marketers must also give people “what they don’t know they need” and no amount of big data can deduce that. What is needed is more ethnographic-based, face-to-face research to help foster empathy and which leads to a deeper understand of the customer. and to help create content that resonates Cutting through will always require content to be distinctive, but as mentioned by Bjoern Asmussen at Oxford Brookes University, it also has to “resonate with the targeted stakeholders’ needs, interests and/or passions.” As Kemplewood’s Mark Wood points out, for any form of branded content to work “it has to be relevant, useful or entertaining. Preferably all of those things.” Brands will still be struggling to join all the dots Uroš Goričan at Publicis Slovenija mentions the continuing problem of “developing strategies that are truly aligned with the essence of the brand” and maintain a common thread that runs across all media. Perhaps, as Somethin’ Else’s Steve Ackerman predicts, the brands who’ll succeed will be those that are best able to define their personalities as opposed to their marketing objectives. People will still be sharing content, and caring more about themselves than brands MRY’s David Berkowitz thinks the sharing of content will continue, with branded 28 Drew Rayman
 Managing Partner
 Tenthwave “Being customer-obsessed and digging deeper allows brands to out-innovate their competitors by offering more authentic, relevant and personal experiences.”
  29. 29. content being a “relatively small but a relatively important part of the mix” because “people care more about themselves than they do brands.” Where consumers go, brands will continue to follow One thing that isn’t going to change is the need for brands to connect with people who buy their products and services. At the same time, David Berkowitz points out that people won’t stop “shifting to new media properties and platforms”, as we have seen with the take up of Snapchat and Whatsapp. particularly with video-based branded content Leo Liang at Youku Tudou Inc in China thinks that people will still enjoy more user-generated content (UGC) and semi- UGC content, but there will be more possibilities for them “to watch, share and even shoot videos at any time and any place”. This is a driver for the prediction from Patricia Weiss of the BCMA’s South American Chapter that branded video content will continue as the main form of branded content to reach audiences on social media. But old media habits will continue to die hard Patricia Weiss also thinks traditional advertising will still get the biggest share of marketing budgets. She does, however, think that advertising is likely to become more entertaining and story- based, even if it will still be used for the most part to push products in the more traditional way. Pereira & O'Dell's chief creative officer PJ Pereira reminds us that what also won't change is “consumers' rejection of irrelevant interruptive advertising.” But as the strategist Sarah Farrugia points out, this sadly won’t stop those who continue “to blast branded content into the world to bore/titillate people in ever more inane ways.” and we’re about to be deluged by more crap In the digital domain, Forrester’s Ryan Skinner still sees marketers obsessing over Google and that the vast majority of content marketing won’t be very good. That’s more delicate than his former boss Doug Kessler at Velocity Partners who warns that as “every B2B brand turns to content marketing, we're about to be hit by a deluge of... “crap”.” Experts will continue to disagree about what the future holds Interestingly, the BCMA’s Chairman Morgan Holt doesn’t imagine any dramatic reinvention of the branded content business model. He thinks “the players know who they are, the value they get from it, and how to work together.” He also sees the model as being “an extension of advertising”. 29
  30. 30. particularly whether we’ll figure out the secret of branded content success Sandra Freisinger-Heinl from Branded Entertainment Online (BEO) thinks we’re currently living in a world of “branded entertainment cocktails” with “a dash of content, a splash of social media, a shot of digital, laced with a pinch of music.” However, Sandra predicts that on the horizon is a basic formula available “to the tastes of every single target group”. This is similar to Joanna Scarratt’s prediction about how the “art of branded content will be as rigorously understood in terms of effective consumer engagement as TV commercials are now.” That seems unlikely if, as Doug Scott at OgilvyEntertainment predicts, “everything we know today about branded content will change; the only thing that will remain constant is the desire for good stories.” It’s a view supported by Michael Reeves at Red Bee Media, who says there will be an “essential need for branded content to tell a gripping story, irrespective of the gadgets and devices used to tell the tale.” Tony Chow at What’s Your Story Inc in Singapore, adds that what will also remain “constant is the customer will always be the hero of the story.” So it looks like we’ll still have a lot of figuring out to do In this book’s introduction the Best of Branded Content Marketing: 10th Anniversary Edition, Doug Scott talks about the branded content industry being in an adolescent phase. But it might be worth thinking about the prediction by Frank PR’s Graham Goodkind about a time not too far in the future “where consumers get so savvy, aware and cute, that the only way to interact is via more and more discontinuous thinking and disruptive techniques.” Whatever the future holds, I predict that there’s still going to be a lot of figuring out to do. 30 Ryan Skinner
 Senior Analyst – 
 Content Marketing, 
 Forrester Research “Within the next five years the world of content marketing will be turned upside down, even if businesses are still practicing it (and to a greater degree than today). Only 10-15% will regularly practice content marketing really well. And people still won’t be really satisfied with the word ‘content’ or the expression ‘content marketing’.”
  31. 31. SECTION 5 About The Report This report into the future of branded content marketing will also be published as a standalone paper. It is part of an ongoing project that Justin Kirby started in 2002 when he set up an international discussion forum where hundreds of marketing practitioners and academics shared their knowledge, opinions and experiences of contemporary and emerging marketing and media trends over several years. The forum activity led to the creation of the 2005 book 'Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Marketing Revolution’, and it informed Justin’s ongoing investigation into the future of branded content marketing in collaboration with industry experts, which he curates annually in partnership with the BCMA. The first annual report was published in 2013 in the pilot edition of the ‘Best of Branded Content Marketing’ with the full contributions curated at Over 60 industry experts around the globe participated in the outreach from which this year’s report was compiled. You can read their full contributions and keep up with the ongoing report series at To participate in this series or send us your feedback about the predictions, please email Justin. ABOUTTHEREPORT
  32. 32. Steve Ackerman, Managing Director, Somethin' Else (UK) Bjoern Asmussen, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Oxford Brookes University (UK) Paul Bay, Founder, Citizenbay Robert Bean, Founder, Robert Bean Branding (UK) David, Berkowitz, Chief Marketing Officer, MRY (USA) Daniel Bô, CEO and founder of QualiQuanti, and author of Brand Content, and Brand Culture (France) Idil Cakim, analyst and author of Implementing Word of Mouth (USA) Andrew Canter, CEO, BCMA (UK) Dave Chaffey, CEO, Smart Insights Tony Chow, Media Consultant and Chief Storyteller at What’s your Story Inc (Singapore) Chris Clarke, Chief Creative Officer, at DigitasLBi (UK) Minter Dial, Professional Speaker, Consultant & Coach and Brand & Digital Marketing Strategist (France/UK) Scott Donaton, Chief Content Officer, UM (USA) Sarah Farrugia, Thinker, Strategist, Progressive at Sarah Farrugia & Company (UK) Tim Foley, MD, pointlogic (UK) Sandra Freisinger-Heinl, Journalist at Branded Entertainment Online (BEO) and Managing Director at MA Media Agency (Germany) Max Garner, Managing Partner at Aegis Media (UK) Samantha Glynne, Managing Partner at Publicis Entertainment (UK) Jan Godsk, Founder Ideatakeaway and Chairman, BCMA Scandinavia (Denmark) Graham Goodkind, Founder, Frank PR (UK) Chris Gorell Barnes, CEO, Adjust Your Set™ (UK) Uroš Goričan, Creative director at Publicis Slovenija (Slovenia) Morgan Holt, Chairman at the BCMA (UK) Melissa Hopkins, Global Head of Brand MarComms at Vodafone (UK) Katy Howell, CEO, immediate future (UK) Jason Hughes, Head of Branded Content & Product Placement, Sky MEDIA (UK) Stan Joseph, CEO, Ochre Moving Pictures (South Africa) Doug Kessler, Founder, Velocity Partners (UK) James Kirkham, Global Head: Social & Mobile at Leo Burnett (UK) Charlene Li, co-author of the bestseller Groundswell, author of the New York Times bestseller Open Leadership, and Founder of Altimeter Group (USA) Leo Liang, Senior Director of National Business Development, Youku Tudou Inc (China) John McDermott, Author, Digiday (USA) Sean McKeown, Commercial Director, Mumbrella Asia (Singapore) Nick Mercer, Commercial Director at Eurostar (UK) Doug Neisser, Founder & CEO at Renegade (USA) 32 REPORT CONTRIBUTORS
  33. 33. Karen Pearson, CEO and Founder of Folded Wing (UK) PJ Pereira, Chief Creative Officer, Pereira & O'Dell (USA) Gretchen Ramsey, VP, Strategy at Tenthwave (USA) Drew Rayman, Managing Parter, Tenthwave (USA) Crispin Reed, Managing Director, Fusion Learning ((UK)) Michael Reeves, Business Development Director, Red Bee Media (UK) Chantel Rickards, Head of Programming/Branded Content EMEA at MEC (UK) Sander Saar, Product Manager, AOL Joanna Scarratt, Head of Brand Partnership at United Agents (UK) Eric Schwamberger, Strategy Partner, Tenthwave (USA) Doug Scott: President, Ogilvy Entertainment (USA) Chris Sice, Managing Director at Blended Republic (UK) Ryan Skinner, Senior Analyst - Content Marketing, Forrester Research (UK) Chris Smith, Business development director at Romelle Swire (UK) Stewart Thomson, ex-Research Director at Ipsos MORI, Media CT Division (UK) Jadis Tillery, Social Media Strategist and Speaker (UK) Stephen Waddington, CIPR President Elect, Director of Ketchum Europe and author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals (UK) Kami Watson Huyse, CEO, Zoetica (USA) Patricia Weiss, Chairman & Founder, BCMA South America; CSO, Wanted Agency; SVP Strategic Consultant for Branded Content, Branded Entertainment & Transmedia Storytelling, ASAS da Imaginaçaõ (BRAZIL) Mark Welland, Founder at New Media Works (UK) Mark Wood, Partner at Krempelwood (UK) Sarah Wood, COO, Unruly  (UK) Barney Worfolk-Smith, Head of Creative Solutions, Unruly (UK) Ian Wright, Managing Director at Tapestry Research (UK) Mario Yiannacou, Media & Advertising Manager at ISBA (UK) 33