The Future of Branded Content

By Tinuiti Team

Now that the FTC has involved itself in the discussion about branded content (a dominant form of native advertising), many advertising professionals have been left wondering how the whole “native” channel will take shape.

It’s more than likely that  the adoption of native advertising practices will increase dramatically over the next 2-3 years, and many businesses will go the route of publishing branded content (otherwise known as “sponsored posts/videos”) on popular, high-traffic blogs.

Let’s take a look at 3 very foreseeable trends that may emerge for branded content and native advertising as a whole.

Branded Content Becomes Programmatic

With more content creators at the healm for big and small-name brands, it’s going to be tricky for major publications like Time or Forbes to know which content to serve, when, and to who.

programmatic-branded-contentWith the advent of real-time bidding, a driving force behind real-time marketing, programmatic content is a likely solution. This isn’t to say that the content creation will be automated, but rather the serving of relevant “content ads.”

For example, using RTB technology, a publication like Forbes can in theory receive a visitor, determine his/her demographic and/or interests, and serve them a targeted, relevant sponsored post in the normal framework of the Forbes blog. All this would happen within a few tenths of a second.

This solves one of the huge downfalls of native advertising as it exists now: publications throw out sponsored posts (which are of course relevant to the blog itself, but not the specific visitor) and looks to see who bites. Now native advertising can look more like the targeting available on the Google Display Network and all of its banner ad glory.

Branded Content Will Be Easily Identified


Much as been made about the deceiving nature of native advertising. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is as long as the content is relevant. But, publications will start to feel more pressure to make it as clear as possible to the reader when a piece of a content is brand-sponsored.

What surprises me is that Google hasn’t popped up in as one of the perpetrators in the native advertising / FTC discussion. Just look at the ads on a standard Google SERP. Who’s to say that these aren’t  native and not as clearly marked as a BuzzFeed Partner post. Depending on your monitor (and the angle you look at your screen), that purplish haze is somewhat ambiguous on purpose.

What we won’t see happening is the all-out effort of publications to mark their sponsored content. In this same example, if Google had decided to highlight their paid ads in a noticeably more distinct green, then searchers would ultimately become blind to the green block, much like they’ve done with banner ads. It will be interesting to see what lengths a publication will go to scrape by the bare-minimum for a “fully-disclosed’ piece of branded content.

Branded Content Will Go Above and Beyond

Imagine a foreseeable future where loyal Time and Buzzfeed readers not only clearly identify sponsored posts, but they actually seek them out because they know that (at the cost of being labeled as branded) this content is 1 huge step above the grade for standard content.

In order for branded content to maintain its integrity, it has to be of a much higher quality than your run of the mill articles and videos. For example, a standard Buzzfeed post reads “15 Must-See Travel Destinations in the Summer.” I could see a Travel Channel post on Buzzfeed reading “30 Must-See Travel Destinations & How to Get There On a Budget,” easily trumping that former article.

Branded content as an advertising channel will be far more efficacious and sustainable once it becomes known as a goldmine for the best content available on the internet. For the time being, who’s to say that the big brands don’t have the big budgets to pull it off?

Thanks for checking out this latest installment to our native advertising series.  Be sure to check out other and future installments to our #nativeads series, including:

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