Sponsored content is the hot new trend in the marketing world, and, as with all new tactics, there’s a lot of debate about how to measure whether it’s working. Right now, most publishers are judging success via traditional publisher metrics (pageviews, time on page, unique visitors) and social engagement metrics (shares, comments). But what about that age-old metric that’s driven TV sales for over half a century, brand lift?
Forbes has an answer, and it just might make everyone in brand publishing want to give them a big old kiss on the lips.
Recently, Forbes Media commissioned a study of the effectiveness of sponsored content from Forbes’ BrandVoice program. The study, conducted by IPG Media Lab, surveyed 2,259 participants and showed them branded content in three verticals: auto, liquor and finance.
We know it has impact, but we haven’t been able to quantify it before.”
The results were impressive. Those who viewed a Forbes.com page that contained a piece of branded content were 41 percent more likely to express an intent to buy the brand’s product than a visitor who viewed a Forbes.com page without branded content. And those who experienced the branded content were 28 percent more likely to have a favorable view of the brand.
“It begins to answer that question, ‘how well does branded content work for brands to be able to forge a relationship with an audience?’ and ‘how does that dialogue begin to shift perceptions?'” Forbes Media CRO Howard told AdAge. “We know it has impact, but we haven’t been able to quantify it before.”
The study was the largest of its kind, but its findings weren’t without precedent. In a recent campaign for Mini, for example, Buzzfeed found that readers who read Mini’s sponsored content were 32.9% more likely to consider a Mini for their next vehicle purchase, and 52.2% more likely to say that Mini stands for fun. A campaign for Hidden Valley ‘For Everything’ resulted in a 121.1% brand lift. And Virgin Mobile has seen brand lift boosts upwards of 150-389% on its Buzzfeed sponsored content, in part thanks to the brand’s consistent publishing schedule on the site.
These numbers aren’t as surprising as they might at first seem. Brands create content to provide value to consumers, build relationships and positively alter consumers’ perceptions. That effect isn’t neatly quantifiable through traditional publishing metrics or social shares. (After all, a piece of branded content can change the way you think about a brand, even if you don’t decide to tweet it out.) Moving forward, brand publishers should look to make brand lift a crucial part of their ROI arsenal.
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