What is Branded Content and Why is it Successful?

Branded content is nothing new. In fact, according to Copyblogger CEO, Brian Clark, in the 1930’s brands created radio shows in efforts to expand their reach. What is new about branded content is the ability for it to take on many shapes and span across a multitude of media outlets. Since branded content is so multifaceted and subtle, it can be hard to understand just what it is.


Modern-day consumers understand the necessity of advertisement, however, they expect to gain something from it. Traditional advertising focuses on approaching advertisements as the way to connect with consumers and audiences while branded content aims to build relationships with them directly rather than waiting for commercial breaks. Branded content is much more interested in the story behind why a brand exists or matters. It aims to tell stories about who their ideal customer is and what they care about, rather than why they should purchase a product. The duality of branded content allows it to hold endless possibilities.


Research by YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, found that approximately 85% of viewers skip advertising. With branded content, brands get to be more than just 30-second ad space. They get to deliver a message, get behind an idea, or create an “on-brand” lifestyle that extends far beyond a singular use of their product. This blurring of the line between lifestyle and advertisement creates content that audiences seek out because it offers them something tangible.


Branded content is successful for many of the same reasons that the internet is successful — there is something for everybody. It enables companies to create a type of “third space” for their consumers to go whether it be a podcast, video series, Instagram account, or blog. This changes the traditional route of advertisement, pushing the consumer to seek out the brand in search of more content, which creates a following for a brand in the same way that an audience is more inclined to watch a movie if its a fan of the director.


So what does successful branded content look like? The answer is anything but specific. The beauty of creating this content is that it allows for true creativity. The following are a few examples that prove branded content is anything but stale.


A great video by YouTube Creator Academy shows many ways that creators can incorporate branded content into their videos as a way to connect their viewership to the brands they get to work with. 


Podcasts are an innovative way for brands to reach their markets through interesting topics and niche dialogue. Blue Apron, a meal-kit delivery service, launched a podcast with Gimlet Media titled, “Why We Eat What We Eat.” The podcast covers topics from food trends to food history, allowing a place for foodies and history nerds to gain insight through entertainment. 


In preparation for the release of “Orange is the New Black,” Netflix partnered with The New York Times to release a blog post discussing the topic of female incarceration. The blog is interactive, well written and informative.