Co-branded content lends a deeper narrative to brands for digital audiences who no longer prefer watching 30-sec ads
The rise of OTT in a world disrupted by the pandemic has forever changed the viewing habits of consumers while giving them an invincible power to skip through the ads or watch ad-free content online anytime, anywhere. This has created an urgent need for brands to not only humanize experiences but also reach their audiences in more connected ways. Co-branded content offers one such impactful opportunity for brands to organically integrate themselves into the lives of customers. It helps create an engaging experience with the potential to set in motion meaningful dialogues among a wide set of audiences which simple advertising cannot achieve. The right partnership can enable brands to meet their TG at a deeper emotional level and build narratives that go beyond the sales pitch to bring the ethereal side of that experience alive. Consequently, well-executed co-branding can significantly expand ROIs and generate new revenue streams for businesses.
Earning credibility through ad-free visibility:
India is currently the world’s fastest-growing streaming market and is all set to emerge as the sixth-largest by 2024. If this rapid growth reinforced that content is king for consumers, then content PLACEMENT is the new reigning king for the advertising community in the digital world. It is because it truly centres around the customers rather than itself. It attracts people rather than interrupts them. Co-branding lets a brand become an active part of a consumer’s frictionless viewing experience unapologetically. When Discovery partnered with Vivo among others for ‘Lost essence of India’, it embedded the brand organically into the script itself to offer a smooth viewing experience to the show’s audiences. For example, the show used the host to capture breath-taking images of the places through the latest Vivo phone to showcase its features as part of the natural story-telling. And that’s how I see brands gaining relevance and earning credibility in an ad-free world of OTT.
The reach, the engagement, and the KPIs of co-branding:
Co-branded content opens up a wide gamut of measurement metrics, unlike the traditional advertising instruments. Simply measuring impressions or “air-time” will be an oversimplification of its value. While the evaluation models in this space are still evolving, the very nature of co-branding allows us to make layered KPIs. For instance, broadcasters can leverage their editorial expertise to build multiple content assets to be amplified across different channels. And each medium can cumulatively add to its ROI. Over and above this, it also has the potential to play a direct sales role for a business.
Finally, the right integration can also deliver long-term value through IP investment which can be played out year on year to not only sustain its loyal customer base but to also attract new audiences. One such disruptive IP in the edu-tech space is the quiz show - Discovery School Super League powered by BYJU that came together during the pandemic to support self-initiated learning. The property, well received by the home-bound students community, successfully reached out to over 23,000+ schools across 29 states and created the biggest ever integrated virtual quiz show in India. This is also a great example of brands leveraging each other’s strengths to create a contextually relevant property that has the shelf-life of many years to come.
Data is the new currency of the digital economy:
As data becomes the new digital currency, today digital data-based insights, powered by AI, can map out a customer's content engagement journey from start to finish. That, in turn, can guide brands to further personalize and target their communication for a better experience delivery. It is the access to this kind of data and analytics that makes co-branding even more compelling for marketers as they look for innovative ways to connect with their digital audiences.
Brands that would come out triumphant on the other side of the pandemic in the post-COVID digital world would be the ones who would have successfully leveraged the digital medium, innovated to have stayed ahead of the curve, and willingly met their audiences on their turf on their terms. We are just about entering a historic time in branding and advertising where the sky is the limit.
The Author is Shaun Nanjappa, Head of Advertising, Sales, South Asia, Discovery
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