Branded content: In brand mentions vs meaningful integration, the latter steals the show

BuzzInContent spoke to publishers, brands and branded content experts to find out the thought process that goes on while any branded content piece is created

BuzzInContent Bureau
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Branded content continues to be the favourite of brands across categories. In recent times, we have witnessed some branded content pieces that were outstanding and felt like seamless brand integrations, while on the other hand, we have also encountered pieces that appear to be forced integrations and the brand lacks connection with the content piece. spoke to publishers, brands and branded content experts to find out the thought process that goes on while any branded content piece is created. We spoke to a publisher, who agreed to speak under conditions of anonymity, who does branded content pieces on his platform.

Upon being asked about the major challenges he has been facing, the publisher said that brands and media agencies come up with specific requirements related to the brand presence on the screen. The requirements vary from having the brand logo or the product present within the first few seconds of the piece or having it for a specific number of seconds on screen or that the brand name should be uttered a specific number of times, so on and so forth.

As a result, the creativity gets compromised and the purpose of branded content is lost.

Countering him is a veteran marketer, who again does not wish to be named, who said that marketing is all about numbers. The veteran marketer said that if he is spending a big share of his marketing spends on branded content, then it is a must for him that the brand should appear/be mentioned as many times as possible.

The dissimilarity

Vineet Kanabar

While sharing his thoughts on the same, Vineet Kanabar, host of Story Tellers & Story Sellers podcast, said, “There should be meaningful integrations. Instead of pushing a meaningful integration, brands want to do a more mindshare advertising approach where seconds on screen equates to comprehension or seconds on screen equates to awareness generation. That is where it becomes problematic because what you’re then doing is taking the user out of the scope of the story that they’re there to consume.”

Kanabar continued the conversation with an example – TVF Tripling where the creative brief was to make Tata Tiago appear as the fourth sibling in the story.

“It is about finding a meaningful, organic connect for your brand within that story that also corresponds to your marketing objective. If my objective is – The user should comprehend that these are the features of my car then I can integrate that meaningfully in the story. For instance, the car has a great navigation feature. I can show that these guys don’t get lost and they use the navigation feature to figure out where they want to go. Or if it has a great music system, I can show these guys enjoying great music in the car like in the web series – they park somewhere, make a little campfire, and the guy who owns the car shows off the speakers of the car,” he added further.

Not just that, but Kanabar also discussed the Flipkart campaign where they were made to say the e-commerce platform’s name five times in a 7–8-minute video. “We made a mistake. That specific case is incidental,” he added.

The two examples above show a stark contrast between a meaningful brand integration and a forced one.

Another publisher, who again did not want to be named, said, “The brand managers, CMOs and the senior marketing leadership team are very close to the consumers and they understand what their consumers are looking for. I meet both brands and agencies. I am seeing this change that they don’t want over the top advertising, but more and more brand integrations.”  

Purpose and numbers

Ankit Khirwal

Ankit Khirwal, Vice-President, Marketing, upGrad, believes that everything depends on the purpose of the alliance, but he added that meaningful brand integration remains the top-most priority. He said, “These things entirely depend on what the objective is. If you’re trying to build a lot of awareness, then you would want the brand to keep coming more often on the screen.  

At upGrad, the purpose now is to –

1. Build consideration for the brand that hey! You come and try our brand.

2. To create a need to upskill, which is revenue-wise more lucrative.

But, for the latter, we need to create much more meaningful narratives in branded content. 100 people connecting with the brand through meaningful presentation is better than 200 people just seeing the brand name. Those 100 people might come and make a purchase on my platform.”

Upon being asked if the purpose behind branded content pieces isn’t always a quantifiable RoI but sometimes it’s about long-term brand building, he said, “It is said because you can’t measure the efficacy. If they could measure, they would want to.”

Another industry expert who spoke about the grammar of measurability, said, “Today, the measurability happens based on how many times the brand was mentioned or shown in the content. But, if one wants to change the narrative, he/she will have to change the measurement.”  

In today’s day and age, marketers must understand that in branded content pieces the user is there for a bit of entertainment and not for their brand. So, they should try to focus more on an organic brand integration instead of a forced one. And to do that, marketers must engage with the content creators at an earlier stage to integrate the brand seamlessly.

The publishers, on the other hand, should also ensure that the creative isn’t compromised and the brand which is spending a lot of money is integrated and presented well in the content piece.

brand mentions meaningful integration branded content