If you want to read about Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf then skip ahead.
Otherwise there are some more thoughts on branded content…
The state of content is changing rapidly.
Newspaper revenue is down from a peak in the late 1990s and will continue to drop.
The confusion has always been over what consumers are paying for:
- Access to content?
What Do We Pay For With Content?
Up until the digital age it was access to content disguised as content. People were never paying $20 for a music album. They were paying $20 for a way to listen to the album. (Will music have a branded content future?)
The same with DVDs.
When digital came along, companies like Spotify and Netflix found a better way for consumers to access content. Now it’s $10/month for access to a lot of content. Consumers still aren’t paying for the content. It’s still for the access.
Some companies can continue to charge for access. Usually niche companies can charge subscription fees. They can create content that is so good that consumers will pay to access it again. But still, they’re paying for access and not for the content.
Consumers aren’t going to pay for access to basic news. They can get it from regular people via social media. They’re not going to pay for opinion. They can get that for free on social media, blogs, YouTube and more from regular people. It might not be as good as the opinion of experts, but it’s not a large enough gap to make it worth paying.
And there are many experts creating content and giving free access and earning money based on the attention they command. They get sponsorships and advertising to trade on the attention.
And that attention is where the branded part comes in.
The Advertising Balance
Consumers will only take so much advertising intrusion. They don’t want their time taken away. There is a balance and one balance might be just one or a few brands paying the content creators.
You see this in the NFL now where NFL reporters are working for the league or for teams. The teams don’t need subscribers or advertising revenue to make money from attention on the content. They sell access to their product in the form of tickets or TV rights. In the future they’ll probably sell advertising rights via streaming or possibly a Netflix-type subscription to games.
With all that in mind, I came across one of my favorite examples of branded content. One that I think we’ll see more of in the future.
Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf
One of the original forms of golf was match play. One player vs. one player. The total score didn’t count. Only the winner on each hole mattered usually with no carryovers, but sometimes with carryovers.
For large groups of the best golfers in the world, match play didn’t work and that’s why almost all PGA Tour events are 72-hole stroke play events where all strokes are added up and the player with the fewest is the winner. This format, when deciding the best golfer from a large group, has usually identified the best golfers.
But golf is still a frustrating game. Rarely are the best players playing their best at the same time. The best players usually win the most tournaments, but they rarely compete against each other for the wins. One week one top player will win. The next week another top player will win with the previous winner maybe finishing somewhere respectable, but not near the top.
That’s where Shell’s Wonderful World Of Golf came in. They filled the void and pitted two of the best players against each other.
The event ran throughout the 60s. Then took a 20-some year hiatus and came back in the ’90s for another 10 or so year run.
The setup was basic. There were content creators and a brand. Shell footed the bill in exchange for the attention.
Branded Content + Your Company
What does this all mean for companies today?
It’s about attention. You’re in the position of a Shell. You can pay for a content creator to create their content with your brand as the sponsor.
Or you can create your own content. Hire someone to work as part of your brand. I guess it’s really the same setup, but either way you’re going where the attention is and getting your brand in front of target customers.
This got a little more into branded content than I thought it would. The basic takeaway is that your company can find undervalued attention and capitalize on it as a way to grow awareness for your brand.
You can create the content yourself. Identify the type of content your audience wants, but doesn’t have. Or you can find someone, a content creator, that has a growing audience and associate your brand with with the content.
This pretty much applies to all content. Video, audio and text. Wherever the attention is, is where the brands will go.