Branded Entertainment Marketing on the Rise

As video audiences are being fragmented, brands are coming under pressure to find new ways to reach out to their customers.  More and more advertising dollars are being moved to the branded entertainment segment and away from traditional advertising.

Branded entertainment refers to the strategic use of events, video, and entertainment to attract and engage targeted audiences.  Identity media refers specifically to one of these branches: the branded video content, which can be one-time or episodic, and integrates the brand identity into the storyline and characters.

The early days of television were the heyday of identity media, when programs usually had only one brand sponsor.  As television moved to using commercials from various sponsors, video content became less brand-integrated, but lately advertising on television is becoming less dependable as viewers move to the web.  So brands are spending more on events, identity media, and advergaming. In 2010, branded entertainment spending reached $25.93 billion dollars, up from $20 billion in 2007.  Advergaming and webisodes make up the fastest growing segment of branded entertainment, with a growth rate over 30%.

In a recent survey by EMI (Event Marketing Institute), over 70% of C-level marketing executives and marketing managers agree that branded entertainment makes stronger emotional connections with the consumer and builds brand affinity with the desired target audience.  21% of respondents have earmarked at least one fifth of their marketing budget to branded entertainment, and another 29% have allocated at least one tenth.

According to eMarketer, $3.1 billion will be spent on web video ads and sponsored programming in 2011, up 43% from 2010.  The sponsored programming segment of that (identity media) is growing especially fast as marketers strive to overcome viewers dislike for interruptions to their entertainment.

“Branded entertainment is emerging as a leading alternative media strategy,” said Patrick Quinn, CEO of PQ Media. “Brands and their agencies have been forced to rethink a lot of their long-held strategies.

He added: “The difficulty of reaching more elusive target consumers, and the transformation of personal communications due to these developments have made it more important than ever for brands to invest in strategies to engage target consumers in captive locations for extended periods of time through the power of emotional connections.”

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