Brands might choose any number of ways to engage with consumers through content. They may create, commission or even sponsor the content, depending on their business objectives, brand values and on the audience they want to reach.
They might also choose different practitioners to help achieve their aims. As well as established creative agencies, there are many specialists queuing at the door to help.
Matt Jagger, creative partner at agency Naked Communications, argues that rather than choosing a particular type of agency, brands should be looking at previous relevant experience. In an address at the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival last month, he argued: “The best people at making entertainment content are the people who have done it for their careers. In the entertainment industry if you do not make good content, then you do not have a job.”
Jagger’s background is as the former chief executive of nightclub and music label Ministry of Sound, and many branded content specialists can draw on similar experience in entertainment.
Public relations firms are also attempting to muscle their way into this space. Mark Borkowski, founder of PR and creative agency Borkowski, says it has used its experience in content creation to diversify and pitch for business “against ad agencies”, although it has, generally, not been up against rival PR firms.
Similarly, TVC Group now produces content in various forms, having begun with pre-packaged news reports for clients. However, according to its commercial director Adam Clyne, marketers often do not have a firm idea who is qualified to carry out these responsibilities. He says: “No one really owns it at the moment. There is not a content director at the client side.”
Borkowski concurs: “There are still pigeon holes that people have to fill, though that is changing.”
For brands that see content as a core element of their marketing mix, the option of producing it in-house is a very real one. Lovefilm runs an ambitious website hosting original and aggregated editorial, attracting 60 million page views per month. At the other end of the spectrum, brands are associating themselves with advertiser-funded programming produced or commissioned by commercial broadcasters, who increasingly offer the facility for consumers to see spin-off content online. The potential for this stands to be great once Project Canvas, the web-enabled video-on-demand platform being developed by UK terrestrial broadcasters, is up and running.