Branded Content Creates Better Relationships

Branded content plays a vital part in creating better customer relationships. With a laser focus on matching branded content and expectations, brands can build stronger ties with customers and allow the pitfalls of overstating expectations.

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Introduction – Branded Content

What Is Branded Content?
Branded content is the material created or curated by brands as part of engaging existing or prospective customers. The content itself could showcase the product/service, brand identities, brand values, and brand strategy. Metrics (such as impressions, conversion, awareness, etc.) are used to determine how the branded content resonates with its intended audience. Typically, the cost of managing branded content would be the responsibility of the sales and marketing department.

The problem with the siloed management of branded content is the mismatch of product/service promotion, expectation setting, and the actual experience. The wider the mismatch, the more would-be customers feel betrayed by the branded content and resolve their feelings through refunds, service complaints, bad reviews, social media amplification, and word-of-mouth transmission.

Inside Burger King’s new logo strategy // The rebrand allows Burger King to show new branded content with attention to its roots of simpler great foods and great service with a side of fun/whimsy. Source: Wall Street Journal

Instead of focusing to engage and encourage purchases, more brands today understand the benefits of spreading their branded content through the entire customer experience journey of engagement, acquisition, onboarding, and service. This allows brands to set/reset expectations along the journey, embeds better customer experience measurement markers, and builds better customer relationships through continuous engagement that’s relevant and timely.

This also means that branded content needs to be sourced from different departments’ inputs instead of solely managed by sales and marketing. Authenticity, accuracy, and relevance matter.



This is Retail Mashup. I’m Larry. And I’m DeAnn. Retail Mashup is a podcast that speaks about the intersections of customer experience in the retail industry. Today I wanted to talk about branded content. It’s having the brand extend its relationship with existing or future customers with the right content.

Branded Content: Key To Motivate Future Purchase

I’ll give you an example. I was at a festival over the weekend. As many festivals would have, many brands there were giving out free things. And I took it, it was Crispers, actually, and they were really tasty, I didn’t know I got this one bag of normal-size Crispers and, thought, “Wait a minute. How would they know if I were to buy another bag because of this festival? How would they be able to track that it’s because of the festival that I was motivated, to buy another bag or maybe many bags of Crispers?

QR Codes – With millions of people attending festivals globally, the right branded content can foster new customer relationships. Just providing free merchandise is not enough anymore. The goal for brands is to attribute the free merchandise to an event so that relevant branded content could be transmitted in the future. Source: Wendy Wei at Pexels

Wouldn’t it be better if the brand actually created specialty bags, or maybe dynamic QR codes to track where the bag is coming to, specifically? Then using the right content, continue motivating me. Because if I picked up a free bag of chips, and I really liked it, it’s part of my memory of the festival, wouldn’t I want that memory to be included somewhere?

Branded Content: Super Bowl Engagement Stops After The Clock Runs To 0 Seconds

With that information, they can then further engage. Because now they may have extended demographic information about who I may be. So that’s number 1 and number 2 we talked about this before DeAnn about the Super Bowl.

Many brands spend many millions on Super Bowl ads. But over time, what happened to those customers that saw the ad? do they get further engagement afterward? Are they identified so that there would be relationship building? When it comes to customer experience, it’s all about building relationships between a brand and a customer.

Branded content extended to the Super Bowl. More than 100 million people watched parts of the 2023 Super Bowl. While brands spending millions to place ads may get an uptick in engagement and sales. it’s more important for them to keep these fresh customers with branded content. The one-and-done approach is now seen by many as not efficient in maximizing long-term sales. Source: NBC Today Show

The longer you hold on to that relationship, the more you can sell things if you have been meeting or exceeding expectations. Would the answer be branded content? And what would that look like? I go back to the Crispers again, they taste really good, but I thought, “What else can you do with the chips?”

Is there a dip that would be perfect with this particular all-dressed bag of chips, or what other chip varieties are there? How can I eat them in different environments? I would have wanted to learn more about the brand, but I feel like I’m not able just by scanning the bag.

It does not have a QR code on the bag. So I feel like the brand itself may have sold itself short. There is a statistics out there that said that especially younger people, 70% of them wanted to know more about the brand.

Branded content could be anything from life hacking, “How can you use the products or service in a way that is not intended, but it’s great for daily life?” Or it could be recipes that we have seen before. Where certain brands say, “Oh if you buy my mixer, this is a monthly recipe you get access to. A brand of juice you are buying is telling you the amazing health benefits.

Apple is a leader in using branded content to showcase its products. In this example, Action Mode introduced as part of iOS 16 and iPhone 14 receives much-needed airtime for users to see the art of the possible with the default camera application. Source: Apple

It’s about having consumers think about you a little more. That type of branded content is great for consumption. Now, obviously, it’s important to track how the branded content is transmitted. Is it through a media network that we talked about before with Walmart? Or is it through online channels, say websites, mobile apps, or maybe a printed ad in a magazine or a billboard?

The Discussion – Attribution Is Hard

What do you think? Attribution has always been a challenge for retailers. Understanding the impact of promotions and the impact of opening a store in a certain location, measuring traffic, and understanding the relationship between traffic and sales.

One of the things that is a big focus right now is figuring out how to measure success. across multiple channels and combining that data to tell you the true story of what your customer is doing. Take for example, e-commerce, you go on e-commerce, and you see an ad, and it prompts you to buy something, that’s easy to track.

You go into a store, you see a sign, it tells you something’s on sale, you buy that. It’s easy to track that through the sale receipts for that particular location. But what if you see an ad online, go into a physical store to try it on, and decide to buy it? Or vice versa if you go into Macy’s for example, some of their employees are still compensated with a percentage of the sale.

They’re very motivated to increase that commission by selling you products and providing excellent customer service. They could spend as much as an hour with a client helping them try something on, find the right thing that fits, and find accompanying accessories.

But what if that customer then decides, I’m on my way to work, I don’t have time to purchase this right now, and I don’t want to carry it around with me, I’m going to be on the subway. I’ve made a note of everything here, and I’m just going to when I get to the office, I’ll go online, and I’ll purchase it.

Well, it’s great for the retailer, because they’ve made the sale, but it’s not so great for the employee who is not going to get the commission. How do you tie those two things together, and how do you understand that a physical store impacts e-commerce sales and vice versa, and then extend that to home?

How do you track the impact of a billboard that you see when you’re driving down the freeway on increased sales? You can see an overall lift. But do that because of the billboard or maybe it’s just been a good week. I don’t know. Retailers are starting to dip their toes into something called retail media networks.

Billboards are one of many platforms for companies to showcase their branded content. However, brands have a difficult time currently attributing their branded content to a specific source. For example, how does Coca-Cola know that you got a bottle of Coke because you saw an ad at Times Square? Source: Vlad Alexandru Popa at Pexels

We are all familiar with the ads that you see online. But because there’s a lot of traffic still going into brick and mortar, a lot of retailers are interested in finding a way to bring ads into their physical stores. As an additional revenue stream for them, Walmart last year had twice as many eyeballs in their physical stores as they did shopping on their e-commerce site.

If they could convince brands to advertise in their stores, just like they do on their website, there’s another revenue stream potentially. But how does that brand understand and attribute any impact on their sales to that ad in the store? Or is it just a happy accident? Is it because of social media? Is it because of an influencer posting?

Walmart Connect is the technology platform used to show branded content on digital screens located inside the retail brand’s physical locations. The overall impressions have exceeded that of website browsing. Source: Walmart

Is it that all of these things are now working together at the same time? And they’re all part of the customer journey. And so measuring them together as part of one cohesive experience that is converging around the customer and taking them to that ultimate purchase decision is really the holy grail for retailers. It’s becoming way more complicated because of our pulling back from first-party data sharing and cracking down on taking that data without it being voluntarily given.

So, this is an interesting subject and something that retailers have not figured out entirely. A lot of solution providers are trying to figure out how they can solve it for retailers because that would be a great revenue stream for whoever manages to figure it out. But it’s something that we’re all working to solve and to get closer to.

As you talked about, it’s not going to be an easy concept, and that’s why we have Retail Mashup, where we’re going to share more information as they come. Both DeAnn and I will continue researching, finding stories and companies that are able to find solutions. In the future, maybe even interview some of them so that brands and consumers alike would be able to get more insight as to how their purchase behaviors Are changed, influenced, empowered, or maybe motivated through different channels that the brand created just for them.

In the meantime, if you like this episode, please press like and share, and we will talk to you next time. Great.

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