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Branded content (also known as branded entertainment) is a form of advertising that uses the generating of content as a way to promote the particular brand which funds the content's production. Often utilized in native marketing, and somewhat similar in appearance, though different in technique than content marketing, branded content typically presents itself as something other than a marketing ploy first, albeit simultaneously and always presented as a highly branded property and often labeled as "sponsored." Contrary to embedded marketing, where the brand is placed within the content, branded content places the content within the brand. Unlike conventional forms of editorial content, branded content is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than studio or a group of solely artistic producers, and is used in film, video games, music, the internet, events, installations and television.
This notion of an advertiser or company producing media designed to engage the consumer solely in order to sell more products has been around for decades. With the growing popularity of radio broadcasting in the 1930s, companies began to increasingly utilize the medium for marketing opportunities. In a method that transitioned famously into television in later years with programs such as the Camel News Caravan, branded radio programs mark when the first glimpse of branded content media occurred. While listeners would tune in solely for entertainment purposes, they were consistently, yet briefly, exposed to the brand name. The term branded content itself, however, really took hold as a labeled marketing technique in 2001, when The Hire was produced and distributed on the internet and DVDs. It featured a series of short films by Hollywood "A-List" directors, but featuring the BMW car in the film was the true intent of the production. The popularity of these films spurred other marketers to create films, music, games, interactive content and real-life events, which merely exists to entertain and educate the consumer, keeping their attention long enough to market a product or service.
The recent increase in branded content, however, including growths in product placement and native marketing techniques, are due to the essential nature of the modern age. Recording devices that allow viewers to skip through commercials have made traditional television advertisements marginally ineffective, thus prompting the turn away from the "in-your-face advertorial", and towards integrated marketing styles.Today, marketed content has grown to include sponsoring events, creating video games, and creating online webisodes. As the cord-cutting movement continues to pick up speed, and companies constantly struggle to maintain viewership during ad breaks, these sort of partnerships are becoming more essential to advertisers. Famous modern examples of branded content campaigns include the multiple Red Bull Air Races and other campaigns, most recently including the Space Jump.
In 2003, the Branded Content Marketing Association was formed in order to promote branded content to a wider, international audience. In January 2008, the BCMA conducted a study intending to analyze the efficacy of branded content compared to traditional advertising. Reportedly, over one-third of people were skeptical about traditional ads, and only one-tenth trusted the companies producing such adverts. The study concluded that "in the overwhelming majority of cases consumers preferred the more innovative approach compared with traditional advertising". Over 95% of the time, web sites that feature branded content were more successful than web sites featuring typical advertisements, and are 24% more effective at increasing the purchase intent of viewers. Branded content is most effective in the 18-34 age group, who tend to react with more positive opinions and being overall more responsive to branded sites. Online Publishers Association's President Pam Horan concluded, "In nearly every category measured, ad effectiveness scores on branded content sites were numerically higher than on the web in general, on portals or on ad networks.
These positive results, however, having come from an organization which endeavors to promote the marketing practice, are subject to criticisms of bias.
Webby and Lovie awards among other had recognized Branded Content as a category in prior instances, but most awards within the advertising community officially began to grow to include branded content in 2012, when "Branded Content/Entertainment" became a category at EuroBest, Dubai Lynx Spikes Asia and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.