Branded Content: new frontiers in business communication

The Editorial Staff
Content Intelligence Network

Communicating is a difficult job. Brands are now media companies, and if they want to convert, they must offer content that meets the needs of the user. Adobe's Brand Content research points out the best trends to follow.

From brand to media. More and more companies, in the current context of content saturation, are trying to emerge offering an extra value, like digital spaces designed to provide entertainment and information focusing on the users and their needs.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 also supports this trend. The word media is no longer used to indicate traditional mass media (now grouped under the term mainstream) but it refers to both content and the platform on which it is hosted. So, we call media everything that is published on the Net by influencers (23%), journalists (89%) and brands (40%), through platforms such as social media (48%), search engines (25%) and news apps (41%).

Thus, in the new information ecosystem branded content stands out. But what should it be like? How can it satisfy the users' needs? The Brand Content Survey conducted by Adobe at the end of 2018 collected interviews from 1,000 US consumers, trying to answer these questions. 

 

What did it reveal?

 

The study identified a cooperation between online and offline in accompanying the user along the buying phases. In fact, 49% of the interviewees visit the physical store, but they are guided in their choice of a product by the content published on digital channels (corporate website, reviews, etc). 

As for the younger generations (GenZ, Millennials), social media and video platforms play a fundamental role in product research and post-purchase interactions. Facebook and Youtube are protagonists in this context. 

  • User experience must be optimal and content must be top quality

The top characteristics required of content are accuracy (31%), the ability to inform (28%) and to engage (8%), the latter being especially important for Millennials, who focus on entertainment (15%).

On the other side of the coin, users also live frustrating experiences such as spam emails (42%), website pages that load slowly (35%), and irrelevant offers (29%).

We must pay attention to these aspects because they will push visitors away from our channels immediately; this is especially true for the younger generations. In the presence of pages where content (images, videos, etc.) is slow to load or it is not optimized for the device in use, tolerance is very low.

We must keep in mind that users are now multiscreen, they use multiple devices simultaneously and for many hours a day (8.8 hours on average for older generations, 11 for GenZ and Millennials). A poor experience from this point of view certainly affects the traffic towards the brand’s digital channels. 

  • Greater demand for customization

Personal data is given more willingly when brands use the information collected to create a personalized experience: this applies to 80% of the GenZ and 69% of the Millennials surveyed.

However, the current situation is alarming: according to the research, the approach to corporate websites was positive in only one in three cases, and 82% admitted that they no longer buy from a company if they have had a negative experience.

By the way, 45% of them receive irrelevant, non-customized content. And that's a shame, because the study found that when content is contextualized and tailored to the consumer’s needs, the possibility of an unscheduled purchase increases by a third. In that case, in fact, 51% of the users buy, 49% become loyal to the brand and 46% recommend it to friends and family. 

  • The importance of trust 

As for the level of trust in the content shared by a brand you buy products from, it is lower in the older generations. The content shared by family and friends comes in first position, while branded content comes third (22%). As we said before, personalized experiences contribute in building trust, because in that way the brand shows to pay attention to the user’s needs

The thoughts of Pierluca Santoro from DataMediaHub are very interesting in this regard. In order to measure user engagement on social networks, you usually sum up the interactions generated by posts (like + comments + shares), then divide by the number of posts on a given day, divide again by the number of fans, and multiply by 100. 

But this analysis needs corrections, because the three actions have completely different value and weight, both in terms of time spent and involvement. A share on a personal profile is more important than a like, as it represents ourselves in front of our community.