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Some channels are (wrongly) regarded as unmeasurable. Over a trio of articles, we talk to the representatives of three types of media that are often quietly ignored when it comes to measuring impact. First off, Andrew Canter, Global CEO of the BCMA on branded content.

Andrew Canter is a determined man. For fourteen years he has spearheaded the BCMA’s mission in the UK to promote branded content and formalise the processes around it. Right now, the organisation is focusing on measuring effectiveness. Over the last ten years, they have been further developing Content Monitor, a product which helps clients and agencies to measure the impact of branded content.

“The £5-10K that it takes to measure a campaign properly is not a lot. It only becomes a problem if you don’t put it in the budget in the first place.”

“I think that the idea that branded content is unmeasurable is just wrong,” he says. “There’s a perception that it’s difficult to do, and as a result, it’s one of those areas where people have become particularly lazy and just default to all those vanity metrics.”

As a medium, branded content has been receiving a lot of attention over the last few years, largely in response to the new ways that people can consume content. This, in turn, has fueled its rise as a new marketing communications concept. “Content is much higher up the agenda for brands now,” says Andrew.

Overcoming difficulties defining branded content

The BCMA's definition of branded content:Branded Content is any output fully or partly funded, or at least endorsed, by the legal owner of a brand. It promotes the brand owner’s values. Audiences choose to engage with branded content based on a pull logic due to its entertainment, information and/or educational value.

There are a couple of reasons why branded content is perceived as difficult to measure. At a basic level, people often can’t quite identify it. “It can occupy such varied formats, from a 90-minute film to a 30-second promo,” says Andrew, “so sometimes people aren’t sure what it is and what it isn’t. If we can’t even agree what it is, we certainly can’t measure branded content.”

Last year at EffWeek 2017, in response to this, the BCMA launched the report Defining branded content for the digital age, authored in partnership with Oxford Brookes University and Ipsos Mori. The report provides marketers with an overview of the ways the term can be used and a definition of what is meant by good branded content. You can download the report, or watch a presentation here. “We’re pleased with the way that the report has been taken up and used by the academic world and by our members,” says Andrew. “Now we’ve defined it; we want to move the discussion forward into the effectiveness arena.”

Related content: Watch a panel at Cannes Lions 2018 discuss how branded content got to where it is today

Finding standardised metrics

The BCMA’s Content Monitor provides clients and agencies with a framework for evaluation and a standardised set of KPI’s that can be applied to all the different formats that branded content can take. It isn’t a one size fits all solution though. “It facilitates a collaborative learning process and requires input from the main stakeholders to define exactly what they want to measure,” says Andrew.

“There is no universal way of measuring branded content being used by everyone,” he continues. “As a result, brands who are already spending significant money on research data tend to try to squeeze it into whatever methodology they are already using”. Andrew is adamant that this is simply a mindset and one we need to break. “We started developing Content Monitor ten years ago, and I regard it as a crusade. We have things like Route for out of home advertising and BARB for TV, so why should branded content be any different?”

The BCMA has curated case studies that use the Content Monitor methodology and are having a measure of success, particularly in less developed markets outside the UK.

Finding the money

“There are genuinely more people involved in branded content than other mediums,” says Andrew, “and I think this is one of the reasons that people see it as being more difficult. Platforms, advertising agencies, media owners, brands and PR agencies will all have a different point of view on how to measure it. With branded content, all of those people, and more, are often involved.”

Andrew Canter speaking at EffWeek 2017
Global CEO of the BCMA, Andrew Canter speaking at EffWeek 2017

Collaboration between so many people to can be hard, and it can also make it difficult to have the conversation about how to pay for proper impact measurement. The BCMA’s members have all been very positive about Content Monitor, but this is the barrier to adoption they most often cite.

For Andrew it isn’t about money, it’s about getting people to have the right conversations at the beginning of the process. “There’s still an awkwardness about talking about it,” he says. “It often gets left to the end of the process, and by then it’s too late. However, in the context of a half million pound campaign budget, the £5-10K that it takes to measure a campaign properly is not a lot. It only becomes a problem if you don’t put it in the budget in the first place. Measurement of impact has to come upfront to be effective.”

Formalising the processes around branded content

The BCMA’s involvement in Effweek is all part of a drive to promote their work around measurement and effectiveness to a broader marketing audience. “We all need to work together to work out how we continue to measure branded content going forward,” says Andrew. “Whether through Joint Industry Committees or initiatives like EffWeek, we are listening to other organisations and brands. We want to hear the push-back on Content Monitor and understand all points of view so we can make it as fit for purpose as possible.”

Andrew will be speaking at a satellite session at EffWeek 2018.

 

“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA