As a medium, branded content has been receiving a lot of attention over the last few years, largely in response to the new ways that people can consume content. This, in turn, has fuelled its rise as a ‘new’ marketing communications concept
Branded Content is much higher up the agenda for brands now. There are a couple of reasons why branded content is perceived as difficult to measure. At a basic level, people often can’t quite identify it. It can occupy such varied formats, from a 90-minute film to a 30-second promo, so sometimes people aren’t sure what it is and what it isn’t. If we can’t even agree what it is, we certainly can’t measure branded content.
In response to this, the BCMA launched the report Defining Branded Content For The Digital Age, authored in partnership with Oxford Brookes University and Ipsos Mori. The report provides marketers with an overview of the ways the term can be used and a definition of what is meant by good branded content.
We’ve been extremely pleased with the way that the report has been taken up and used by the academic world and by our members. Now we’ve defined it; we want to move the discussion forward into the effectiveness arena.
The BCMA’s Content Monitor provides members and agencies with a framework for evaluation and a standardised set of KPI’s that can be applied to all the different formats that branded content can take. It isn’t a one size fits all solution though. It facilitates a collaborative learning process and requires input from the main stakeholders to define exactly what they want to measure.
Currently there is no universal way of measuring branded content being used by everyone and as a result, brands who are already spending significant money on research data tend to try to squeeze it into whatever methodology they are already using. The BCMA believes that this is simply a mindset and one that needs to change.
There are genuinely more people involved in the process of developing and creating branded content than other types of communication that may be one of the reasons that people see it as being more difficult. Platforms, advertising agencies, media owners, brands and PR agencies will all have a different point of view on how to measure it. With branded content, all of those stakeholders (and sometimes more) are often involved.
Collaboration between so many people can be hard, and it can also make it difficult to have the conversation about how to pay for proper impact measurement. The BCMA’s members have all been very positive about Content Monitor, but this is the barrier to adoption they most often cite.
It is about getting people to have the right conversations at the beginning of the process. It often gets left to the end of the process, and by then it’s too late. However, in the context of a half million pound campaign budget, the £5-10K that it takes to measure a campaign properly is reasonable. It only becomes a problem if you don’t put it in the budget in the first place. Measurement of impact has to come upfront to be effective.
The BCMA has curated case studies that use the Content Monitor methodology and are having a measure of success, particularly in less developed markets outside the UK.