Branded Entertainment marketing is growing, and growing fast. Since the recent explosion in content consumption, brands have found new avenues to deliver their brand messages by creating content relevant to their audience. eMarketer projects $8.8 billion in Branded Entertainment spending by 2018, nearly 12 percent of what television spend is projected to be three years from now. That’s a large number, considering television’s 60+ years of advertising dominance.


Today’s brands are recognizing the importance of Branded Entertainment. However, clear and defined ways to measure their effectiveness have yet to be determined. Additionally, brands are struggling to figure out exactly what kinds of content will resonate best with their intended audience, and the issue of scaling these Branded Entertainment pieces has yet to be fully understood.

People have different expectations for online content than they do for TV or print. In more traditional forms of media, there seems to be an aversion toward advertorial-type executions due to audience expectations regarding the content relative to the medium. In terms of digital Branded Entertainment campaigns, research found that 61 percent of consumers agree: as long as the content the brand is producing is good quality and provides what that they want from their content consumption, they do not care if the content is sponsored.


Much like how television concepts are pre-tested before production, the development of a Branded Entertainment can benefit from using similar practices. To zero-in on the type of content that would appeal most to the audience, Shaftesbury developed a technique to gauge audience interest in potential pieces of a branded entertainment program.

After setting content parameters for a specific brand and its objectives, we run a long list of content ideas (headlines and short copy blurbs) through a MaxDif conjoint technique. In layman’s terms, a MaxDif is a type of trade-off analysis. It efficiently allows for identifying which concepts have the most potential appeal to the audience — before incurring any production costs. The resulting analytics then rank the concepts in order of most appealing.

The industry has spent years amassing an enormous amount of data on other forms of advertising to determine best practices. Branded Entertainment has not been afforded that luxury, leaving marketers understandably wary. Shaftesbury’s experience definitively proves that content marketing is a reliable and consistent mode of brand messaging that works. However, to reap its full benefits, it’s important that brands truly understand what their respective consumers want from content. Additionally, brands should continue to experiment with the format and be open to the idea of including more of their brand messaging with the content they produce. Branded Entertainment is a powerful tool that brands should employ, as its efficacy in terms of brand equity is clear and can be proven. Identifying core content needs and nuances are key to success. Armed with these insights, brands can fully invest and embrace the challenges and benefits that come with deploying a successful Branded Entertainment campaign.


As Branded Entertainment grows and brands consider shifting their marketing and advertising budgets, many will struggle with how to get started. Keep the following best practices in mind as you develop a Branded Entertainment strategy:

  1. Although the digital and analog worlds of content are colliding, what works (or doesn’t work) on television and other offline channels does not necessarily translate online. Be mindful of the medium when creating content and adapt.
  2. Test to understand what content (topic and format) will resonate best with your audience to yield greater returns in brand equity and campaign performance.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the amount of brand messaging and presence injected into your content. Test and see what works best for your brand and consumers.
  4. Orchestrate consumer research with digital analytics to provide a more complete view of how the program is working.

To stay up-to-date with the latest Branded Entertainment news, sign up for updates from Shaftesbury. And if you’re ready to start working a Branded Entertainment plan of your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.