Engaging the Millennial consumer is crucial to Corporate America’s marketing plans. Branded content plays a key role in this effort. Get the research substantiating branded content efforts and read about 8 surefire ways brands can connect with millennials (Partner Message).
According to a recently released quantitative study “Storytelling: The Current State of Branded Content” by IPG Media Lab, Forbes and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, branded content’s impact is superior to display advertising in terms of recall, brand perception and intent/consideration. The study results include findings on how millennials react to branded content: “longer form branded content drives millennial purchase consideration: 18-34 year olds responded better to long articles, driving higher engagement consideration rates and aiding recall.”
As consumers shift their attention to mobile devices at the expense of traditional media channels, they gain more control over their content consumption experience, opting to ignore, skip, and even block advertising they did not opt-in for. This is especially true in the tech-savvy Millennial segment. While marketers scratched their heads to overcome the hostile ad-blocking environment, branded content has risen as a smart advertising alternative, which has indeed changed the way brands connect with consumers.
But there are unique challenges in creating and distributing sponsored content intended for the Millennial generation. Here are seven steps you can take in connecting your brand with the free-thinker and highly connected Millennial users via content they actually want to consume.
1. Partner with a trusted publisher
Identify publishers trusted by your Millennial audience and partner with them. This step is critical because sponsoring content on publishers that do not offer a safe or enjoyable user experience, or worse on publishers that are not regarded as reputable by your consumer, is bound to affect your brand negatively.
2. Produce relevant content
Research the likes and dislikes of your Millennial consumer, then plan your content around topics that are most important to them. Apply user-data information as a guide to shape your content offering. Leverage your partnering publisher’s familiar voice to tell your brand’s story in a way that resonates best with this audience.
3. Offer valuable content
Fight the urge to produce salesy sponsored content. Rather, look for building brand loyalty by offering Millennials entertaining, educational, inspirational, or otherwise valuable content. Millennials are prone to associating their appreciation for a prized piece of content with the sponsoring brand. Take advantage of this.
The production of valuable content definitely pays. According to the above cited study of IPG Medialab, an increase in the effectiveness of branded content over time was also measured. Aided ad recall showed a 17 percentage point improvement when measured against a similar 2013 study conducted by the IPG Media Lab.
Fight the urge to produce salesy sponsored content.
4. Share their values
Beyond your brand’s values, your sponsored content should elevate the values of your Millennial consumer. A study by the Pew Research Center concluded that the top three priorities of Millennials are parenting, their romantic relationship, and helping others. How can your sponsored content speak to traits such as these?
5. Produce emotionally driven content
Communicate your brand’s benefits with emotion. Laughter, joy, trust, compassion, aspiration, the choices are many, but tapping on the right emotion will pay off. Recognizing that Millennials are an eager to learn, information-hungry generation, VIX Science produces entertaining yet educational content to satiate the Millennial curiosity, as a result, their content quickly became a social hit. VIX Science’s Facebook page alone has over 4 million fans, and counting.
6. Create content for social sharing
Create content for social sharing. The vast majority of the time Millennials spend on digital is spent on social platforms. Create content to be consumed and shared on social networks. Optimize your content so that its format fits seamlessly each social platform. The video that performs well on YouTube may not receive compatible engagement on Facebook. Make sure your content is custom-made for each platform to increase the likelihood of engagement.
7. Mobile must be top of mind
Millennials are mobile first, or multiscreen at best. Enhance your engagement by producing mobile-friendly sponsored content. Think of content bites that can be comfortably consumed on a small screen while your consumer stands at the grocery store checkout line, or sits at the dentist’s waiting room.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Mention Your Brand
‘Higher Branding,’ defined as 2x the number of brand mentions, caused brands to be perceived as more educational by over 7 percentage points and performs better on mobile devices.
In the current digital marketing landscape, sponsored content allows brands to break through the clutter and connect with their most valued consumer segments. Leading brands not only understand the importance of adopting content marketing, but they also test strategies and implement best practices to secure the best engagement rates. Millennials in particular appreciate when their user experience is enhanced by valuable content, as opposed to being interrupted by intrusive ads. Follow the steps above and your brand will be well on its way to building loyalty among this savvy and demanding younger audience.
This is the second article in a series presented by Batanga Media
The first article was Branded Video Amplification: 5 Things You Need to Know (Learning from the REI – VIX Campaign).