Live TV Channels Swapping Ads For Sponsored Content To Fight Ad Avoidance

What Happened
As an increasing number of viewers become accustomed to the ad-free experience offered by OTT streaming services such as Netflix, some traditional media owners have started to deal with the growing intolerance of ads by trying out new forms of advertising. NBC is set to swap out some ad spots airing during its primetime shows this week with AmEx-sponsored content, which includes extra scenes and interviews with the shows’ stars, all with American Express mentioned before and after each segment.

Similarly, Viceland, the new TV channel from Vice Media in partnership with A+E Networks, officially launched on Monday. The channel plans to carry only half of the normal 18 minutes of ads per hour, while also pledging to make around half of the remainder native ads designed to look like Vice’s editorial content. A number of brands, including Unilever, Mailchimp, Toyota, and Bank of America, have signed on as advertisers on Viceland.

What Brands Need To Do
Both NBC and Vice are commendable for their attempts to deal with consumers’ growing aversion to ads and experiments with new types of ads. At a time when ad blockers and subscription-based streaming services are helping millions of viewers actively avoid ads, it is important for brands and media owners to take measures in response and come up with new ways, such as sponsored content and native ads, to engage with their audience.

For more information on how brands should leverage interesting branded content to earn consumer eyeballs, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016.


Sources: Bloomberg Business & Wall Street Journal

Instagram Tries Content Curation And Opens Self-Serve Access To Carousel Ads

What Happened
Taking a page out of Snapchat’s playbook, Instagram tested a Live Stories-like video content curation on Saturday, highlighting some of the best Halloween posts across its platform. Shown as a banner atop of its mobile app, U.S. users can click the prompt to see a curated video stream, stripped of the captions, likes, and comments that usually come with Instagram posts. Instagram has confirmed that this is “just the start” for this kind of event-specific UGC curation.

In related news, the photo-sharing network is also opening up access to its well-received Carousel Ads to more brands. Starting in the next few weeks, the multi-image ad unit will be available for all brands via Facebook’s self-service ad dashboards. First launched in March, Carousel Ads were the first Instagram ads that included clickable links that can direct users to destination sites outside the app.

What Brands Need To Do
According to Instagram, Carousel Ads on average drive an additional 2.5-point lift in ad recall. In particular, Ben & Jerry’s reported a 33-point increase in ad recall with Instagram ads. Offering its hottest new ad product via a self-serve interface should certainly attract more brands to try it out. Moreover, the new event-specific content curation holds great potential in becoming Instagram’s own Live Stories or Moments, potentially providing brands a new channel to surface branded content with sponsored posts or streams.


Source: Re/Code & Marketing Land

Pandora Now Lets Brands Sponsor Hour-Long Listening

What Happened
Pandora has officially rolled out to all advertisers its “Sponsored Listening,” which it first started testing last fall. The new ad format prompts listeners to watch a branded video or click on a rich media ad in exchange for one hour of ad-free listening. Compared to more “native” audio ads, this ad unit seems disruptive to the user experience. Pandora claims that in pilot testing, those ads boosted purchase intent by 30% and brand awareness by 12%.

What Brands Should Do
If your brand is looking to reach the younger, streaming-heavy demographics, it may be worth your while to consider the kind of value exchange that “Sponsored Listening” presents: disrupt the audience to catch their full attention with the promise of a disruption-free experience later on. The lesson for brands here is that, if you want to cut through the clutter and engage with your audience, then you have to offer them some incentives to capture their attention first.


Source: AdWeek

Header image taken from Pandora Advertising

LinkedIn Buys Marketing Firm Bizo For Better Ads

Following its acquisition of Newsle to get better at personalized news, with the potential of turning news feeds into a platform for native advertising within targeted professional circles. LinkedIn has continued to dive into the world of sponsored ads by inking an $175 million deal to buy Bizo, a business-focused marketing firm. Given that one of the fastest-growing ad products on LinkedIn, or social media in general, is sponsored updates, this acquisition can be seen as a follow-up in the company’s ongoing efforts in mobilizing its platform for branded content.

Upworthy Announces Plans For ‘Sponsored Curation’

Branded content and native ads are nothing new, but Upworthy’s announcement of sponsored curation presents an interesting opportunity for cause marketing and social responsibility initiatives. The viral content network is planning Upworthy Collaborations which let brands deliver promoted posts, sponsored content curation around key themes and content consultation.  Their first collaboration has been Unilever’s Project Sunlight which has curated a section of articles around sustainability efforts. There will certainly be plenty of eager brands looking for these custom opportunities but how will Upworthy revenue compare with a traditional display model?

Contently Raises $9 Million

Content marketing platform, Contently raised 9 million to empower brands as publishers. The self-service model connects writers with agencies and publishers to produce brand content whether they be white papers, sponsored articles or blog entries. While the industry seems to be shifting towards programmatic, there is also equal interest in custom, native experiences, putting Contently in a sweet spot. The Lab conducted some research on branded content on behalf of Forbes last year that found it to be most successful on publisher sites opposed to the brand’s own channels.