Branded Content Literacy

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My flatmate and I, each booking separate taxies to our work, set off for the day not knowing we would run into each other at the same event. Belonging to different companies, little did we know we would be consuming the same content at the same time and from the same amazon of sources. Though it was not inconceivable being the communication industry where everything under the sun is interlinked.

This is the case with many, if not all brands. Consumers of n number of brands rapidly consume content at the same time and often from the same source. You may find both a doctor and a DJ at the same dinner reception preferring different cuisines. But the underlining difference is the kind of questions they may ask about the content, in this analogy – the food: What food is being served? As opposed to what alcohol is on the menu. All jokes and stereotypes aside, naturally as marketers we target a certain audience who will potentially enjoy the idea and purchase our product. And sometimes we see brands marketing products that may not answer all the questions of all the consumers be it in healthcare sector, electronics sector, or food.

My question is – How should a brand sound when speaking to this entire gamut of consumers. Should they sound ‘massy’ or focus on uber targeted content.

It is a logic which stems from the fundamental concept of the marketing mix – 4Ps. Philip Kotler defines this as a set of ‘controllable variables’. ­­ But how does it matter when we cannot measure it, let alone control it. This was the different side of marketing which my aforementioned flatmate had asked at the very same event we attended.

“How do we measure impact even if it is 0.3%?”

Branded content is subtle. It is not ‘push’, neither is it fundamentally ‘pull’. The two are strategies suitable for various market scenarios. And branded content is a concept which breathes a fire of its own in creating values instead of being a canon of ads yelling the word ‘ME’.

Many brands successfully pull off this aspect of sublety by creating impact through means of content and not traditional placement. Typical branded content prioritizes the experience first, and then adds its name to it. For example – in this record-breaking free fall from the stratosphere, one will find a number of brands mentioned along the course of the video which will set the vibe and tonality of the brand. These are things consumers remember for a lifetime. We can refer to the Maslow’s theory for a more indepth understanding of the field.

Advertising has changed a lot. A student who studied advertising & film in the early 90s will know different things from a student studying advertising & film now. The media is a highly dynamic environment and demands scalability in terms of content and technology. And to my opinion – we are abusing the privileges of accessibility. Give a man a fish, he will survive for the day, give him a fishing rod, and he will survive forever. But we seem to be given a fishing rod only to catch things that we shouldn’t, for example, an endangered whale. Advertising must be regulated and measured for best practices and impact. Which brings us to data analytics in digital content – but that is a debate for another day until we understand the difference between sponsored and branded content; and finding the number of brands cheekily named in this blog.

Mashun Raikhan