‘Logistical nightmare’ holding back branded content projects

CASBAAAgencies are reluctant to produce branded content for their clients because of the “logistical nightmare” of piecing a campaign together, executives at the CASBAA convention in Hong Kong today suggested.

“Branded content is a logistical nightmare. It takes a brave client to take the plunge,” said Mike Rich, Asia Pacific CEO of content for media agency GroupM.

“Traditional advertising is much more straight forward,” he said.

“But the biggest challenge as an agency is managing the balance between creating something that is entertaining and engaging, and delivering a product that is commercially viable,” Rich suggested.

Rich was on a panel that included his client, Kar-Tai Koh, global brand manager for Shell Advance Motorcycle, which was behind the series Freedom Riders.

The series ran on Fox.

Simeon Dawes, Fox International Channel’s EVP, Asia Pacific and Middle East, said that keeping stakeholders happy was the toughest part of the branded content production process.

“Clients often feel they know what’s best in developing content, so they end up having too much influence. Then things can go horribly wrong, and the end product suffers,” he said.

“Keeping stakholders happy on the editorial side is paramount,” he said.

Branded content does not come cheap, and is less easy to sell to clients than traditional advertising, he added.

“Be under no illusions that branded content is cheap. The margins are good, but they’re not great,” Dawes said.

“The first thing we look at is how much money we could make, because of course these projects are sales driven.”

“We also look at how they could contribute to Fox’s suite of original programming,” he said.

GroupM’s Rich added that measurement was crucial to making branded content work – which has increased from two to ten per cent of the network’s revenues in recent years.

“Measurement is everything. You need to be clear upfront what your objectives are,” Rich said.

This is partly why branded content benefits from an online element, the Shell client, Kar-Tai Koh, said.

“You can track downloads, engagement and see whether conversations about your brand are good or bad,” he said.


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