Branded content is more effective when published alongside display ads, according to a new study by Ipsos Connect and Polar. The media enterprise found that purchase intent increased by 17 per cent when users were exposed to both resources compared to just content alone.
The latest study was commissioned to determine whether branded content truly works, and the results are very encouraging for marketers, as the use of bespoke articles and videos are generally extremely effective at driving brand lift. There was a 69 per cent uptick in unaided awareness and a 51 per cent increase in purchase intent.
Ipsos Connect and Polar used a broad range of content styles and exposed participants to them on a live website during the tests. Their responses and reactions were broken down depending on the content form, delivery device, accompanying ads and brand integration, with the latter categorised as either light, medium or heavy.
The main takeaway is that branded content really works, as it outperformed averages in aspects such as uniqueness, believability and entertainment, though there was a stronger response across the board when it was placed alongside ads. It appears that readers and viewers now believe that ads enhance the experience of consuming digital content rather than disrupting it.
Ad blocking has become pervasive in recent years, but the study noted that better integration and targeting can help publishers deliver relevant content with ads that serves a user’s interest and needs while telling a story that engages. It also found that branded content wasn’t more confusing when consumed with companion ads.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly visually oriented, as breath-taking images had the strongest effect on brand interest and opinion, though video and text were close behind and also had a positive impact. Meanwhile, more users are now viewing content on mobile devices, but purchase intent was actually 17 per cent stronger on desktops, which suggests that brands still have much work to do to deliver high-quality content tailored for smartphones.
Finally, a “less is more” approach may be best for brand integration within content, as there was greater user interest for editorial content compared to custom content. Overall, branded content of any form is clearly a marketing tool with the potential for incredible returns for modern enterprises.