At the back end of 2019 we made some predictions about the future of branded content. Did any of them come true? Read on to find out…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for predictions. And if you can’t beat them, join them, right? Below you’ll find a link to our guesses about the future of branded content in 2022.
But before you dive into the list we thought it would be worth looking back at the last time we played content marketing Nostradamus, which was at the end of 2019. A more innocent, pre-Covid time. If only we’d seen that coming. Our thoughts are very much still with those who were (and maybe still are) badly affected by the pandemic.
Here’s what we said then:
- VR still won’t be a viable way for brands to reach audiences at scale. Nothing wrong with experimenting before it goes mainstream mind you. Which it will. One day. Probably. Just not next year.
- AR will edge towards the mainstream. Art galleries and museums will increasingly normalise its adoption; so too such things as Ikea’s interior design tool Place and Dulux’s Visualizer app. Broadcasters are also starting to deploy it in interesting ways, such as Denmark’s TV 2 with its innovative Tour de France coverage [source: virtzrt.com].
- Brands will try harder to measure ROI [source: Forbes] on their branded content investment. Many will continue to measure the wrong thing.
- Branded video content will polarise: we’ll see lots of ultra short-form content [source: campaignlive.co.uk] on platforms such as TikTok; and longer-form content on digital and broadcast/OTT platforms. Hat tip to Berocca for doing the latter [source: 4sales.com] in 2019.
- Global branded content spend will reach $13.4bn [source: Digiday.com]. Which is a lot of money.
How did we do? Well, I’d say we got the VR and AR predictions about right, even if AR remains a little way off the mainstream. But given you can access a branded AR game via a QR code on the back of a packet of Cheerios these days, even that’s debatable. See our 2022 predictions to find out how we see XR shaping up in 2022.
As far as number 3 goes – brands will try harder to measure ROI – we’d say that was spot on. Brands and agencies have become more sophisticated in the ways they judge the bang of each marketing buck spent, with the pandemic forcing us all to ensure budgets are being spent responsibly. Check out this article on Digiday, which explains how some publishers are going beyond vanity metrics such as reach when analysing the success of TikTok content, for example, with ‘percentage watched’ the key stat. Brands are surely/hopefully thinking the same way.
To number 4 – branded content will polarise into short and longer form content. I think a pat on the back is due there as well. We didn’t expect TikTok to take off in the way it has, but its ridiculously addictive UI and burgeoning popularity has tempted many brands to get involved. Facebook is as popular with advertisers as ever; so too YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. At the long-form end of the spectrum, lockdown was a good time to fund a TV show, given none of us was able to go out much and good old-fashioned telly made a bit of a comeback (not that it really went anywhere). We believe at least 20 brands did an AFP in the UK in that period. Mid-form is also a ‘thing’ now. 4Studios, Channel 4’s social first division, find that programmes that run to something 4-10mins work well for them (as well as shorter form material, of course).
If nothing else this proves that length is the last thing a brand needs to worry about. Nail the idea first, then work out how much time is needed to tell the story. We’d rather not get any more briefs that say ‘I need a 3min video please.’ Why? Who said 3mins was the magic number? Honestly, no platforms’ algorithms favour content of a particular length (as long as it’s not too long for TikTok, Twitter et al). If it’s good, people will watch it all the way through, then they’ll like it and share it. That’s going to keep the algorithms happier than a spurious duration.
And finally, to number 5 – the amount spent on branded content. Accurate figures are notoriously hard to find as the definition of what constitutes branded content is so vague. Companies are also typically unwilling to share how much they’ve spent on it. So let’s just say that was spot on. Full marks.
Conclusion: We’re going to give ourselves a B+ in our end of year report for the accuracy of our 2020 predictions.
And that brings us on to the present day. What’s around the corner in our world? Here’s our best guess.