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Branded content = contextual & effective

With the Newsworks Planning Awards 2017 now open for entries, Newsworks' Jessie Sampson takes a look back at some of the brilliant branded content partnerships that won last year. 

Ad placement and viewablity has become a – if not the – hot topic of 2017 (at least in the media world). Where ads are appearing and who's actually viewing them was propelled into the limelight by both P&G's Marc Pritchard and The Times' revelations about online ad placement earlier this year. GroupM's announcement about viewablity standards and the IPA's open letter to Google and Facebook about brand safety are the most recent developments to stem from the issue.

The problem with low cost programmatic placement was explained brilliantly by the Guardian's Hamish Nicklin at ISBA's annual conference in March: "If we apply that principle of low-cost advertising to branding in the real world, what you might get is, say, Rolex wanting to target 'City boys', putting an ad in a urinal in a boozer in the City, because you're targeting that individual in a very very cheap way... Rolex would never be happy with that, but that's what happens every single day on the internet."

If recent research from the CMO Council is anything to go by, consumers aren't oblivious to the effects of questionable ad placement. The survey found that 48% will abandon a brand if they see their ads next to 'objectionable' content or on fake news sites. Coupled with the fact that 60% of consumers say that offensive content on Facebook and Twitter have caused them to "consume more content from trusted, well-known news sources and established media channels", it's clear that consumers are sensitive to what content and ads they are being served online.

The study also concluded that 63% would respond better to a social media ad if it appeared on a more 'traditional' ad channel. This backs up Newsworks' project with Flamingo and Tapestry which found that newsbrand content on social media is 1.4 times more trusted than social media content in general.

Overall, the research – 'Is the medium still the massage?', which comes 50 years on from the publication of Marshall McLuhan's seminal work – emphasises the important role that mediums still play when it comes to delivering messages.

One way for advertisers to ensure that they are reaching actual people in a relevant environment is a branded content partnership with a newsbrand. With this year's Newsworks Planning Awards now open for entries, it's the perfect time to look back at some brilliant examples of native content from last year's winners:

Boots & Trinity Mirror: This campaign saw Boots team up with Trinity Mirror to re-educate the public about the additional services that Boots provide and encourage them to 'ask a pharmacist'. Articles focused on topical health issues and a series of Q&A style features highlighted the expertise available at Boots, while seasonal quizzes and online games rewarded consumers with coupons and Advantage Points for sharing on social media. The tie-up with Trinity Mirror not only built on the publisher's long-standing campaigning for the NHS, it also allowed Boots to reach consumers via local and national press and utilise the newsbrands' Modal Britian research.

McArthurGlen & ESI Media: For London Fashion Week McArthurGlen teamed up with official LFW sponsor, ESI Media. With the aim of heightening the retailer's fashion credentials, content saw the team replicate five daily looks from the catwalk with products from McArthurGlen outlets. The activity gained attention by using celebrities, fashion designers and influencers in around-the-clock live streaming, amplified by promotions in the London Fashion Week special edition of ES Magazine and via social media. This built up to the pinnacle moment of a Facebook Live edition of the Henry Holland show. By aligning itself with a brand which was not only an official sponsor of London Fashion Week, but is also a stalwart London publication, McArthurGlen achieved an ESI Media first – commercial content with a higher engagement level than editorial content. 

Ramblers Worldwide Holidays & The Telegraph: With the goal of building trust with consumers and attracting new users, RWH collaborated with The Telegraph for a year-long partnership across all reader touchpoints including print, online, tablet and live events. By building on RWH's heritage and expert status in the walking domain, the cross-platform campaign delivered a huge increase in leads, saw the brand record its highest ever day of traffic and host one of The Telegraph's most successful live events.

Not only did all of the above campaigns drive great results for the brands, they reached consumers in a contextually relevant and safe environment – delivering engaging content within the realms of measurable, accountable media.

 First published by INMA

One way for advertisers to ensure that they are reaching actual people in a relevant environment is a branded content partnership with a newsbrand.

Jessie Sampson, communications manager, Newsworks
by Jessie Sampson 14/09/17

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