At the 2014 NewFronts presentations, online video content providers revealed that product placement will play a larger role in video content. Just as TV shows feature certain brands, online videos may soon have integrated brands in their story lines. The practice, known as branded entertainment, may provide a new source of revenue for video content providers with original programming. Also, viewers typically find branded entertainment less obtrusive than traditional video ads.
Several media companies announced branded entertainment partnerships. BuzzFeed is collaborating with global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi to develop content for the agency’s clients. Time Inc. has made content marketing deals with Bacardi, Chase, Chevrolet, Du Pont, Ford, Kraft, Jeep, Lincoln and Toyota. Acura, BMW, FedEx and Honda will be some of the brands featured on Crackle’s programming.
“For all the benefits that accrue to brands through content marketing, executives acknowledge pitfalls, too, primarily the damage that can be done when the line between news content and advertising is deliberately blurred, smudged or erased,” reports The New York Times.
One of the biggest concerns regarding the expansion of branded video content is the increasingly blurred line between news and advertising.
“There can be no doubt in consumers’ minds when content is paid for and when content is editorial,” said Trevor Fellows, head of global advertising sales at The Wall Street Journal. He believes that too few publishers uphold this principle.
The Corbis Entertainment division also introduced its Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) which will connect marketers with some of Corbis’ 600 product placement opportunities in digital video, TV shows, and movies. BEN, which will be funded by placement commissions, will give Corbis access to data, allowing branded marketing to be tracked similarly to any other advertising method.
“The digital natives are not resting on their video laurels as the digital immigrants arrive,” notes NYT in a related article. “Google, parent of YouTube, hosted an elaborate NewFronts presentation under the YouTube Brandcast banner… YouTube announced an initiative called Google Preferred, which allows advertisers to more easily identify and buy the most popular 5 percent of YouTube video content in sectors like entertainment and food.”