In the world of native advertising, which includes sponsored content, branded content, and various digital content experiences, advertisers are increasingly interested in whether their native advertising results, specifically whether they can improve brand loyalty and purchase behavior.
Recent research by Ipsos Connect and Polar, “A Guide to Brand Measurement,” reveals that it does, and it also provides some insight into some of the more effective ways to produce and publish branded content based on consumer responses and user experiences.
The research paper’s key takeaways include:
- Consumer awareness of a brand increased to 69% after engaging with branded content; purchase intent increased to 51%.
- Incorporating companion display ads alongside branded content improved purchase intent by 17% and did not have any negative impact on brand perception.
- Purchase intent was slightly higher when consumed on desktop, yet certain categories, like consumer-packaged goods, performed better on mobile.
“The results also challenged the conventional wisdom on the triumph of video,” wrote Peter Minnium, President of Ipsos Connect, in his analysis of the research paper. “While high-budget video and interactive content are indisputably effective, infographics and galleries were 7% more successful than video content in improving user interest, and 9% more effective in improving opinion.”
In fact, the research shows that images were stronger performers across all devices than videos, with infographics or galleries being the best at driving brand key performance indicators, “especially for interest-level and brand opinion.”
“Images are often the easiest way for a consumer to view branded content as they don’t require a lot of reading, audio, or time,” according to the report.
The study defined three levels of brand integration as the following:
- Sponsored editorial: This type of content has already been created or identified for creation by an editorial department and is available for brand sponsorship, and includes display advertising alongside the content. This content is identified as having the lowest level of brand integration.
- Custom content-light integration: This content is custom-produced for the advertiser by the publisher’s content studio. The content discretely or indirectly features an advertiser or its products, but they are not the subject of the content itself.
- Custom content-heavy integration: This content is custom-produced for the advertiser by the publisher’s content studio, but features specific branding, products or services, imagery, or videos, and a more direct call-to-action.
The research shows that of the three levels of brand integration, less is more. The strongest brand lift performance came from the sponsored editorial material, which has the lowest level of brand integration yet the highest impact on brand lift, especially purchase intent, the research shows.
“However, this does not mean lightweight or heavily customized content aren’t valuable,” the paper states. “All levels of integration had a strong positive impact. Custom content with light integration drove awareness at more than 41%, while custom content with heavy integration drove purchase intent at more than 51%."
Marketers should focus on the marketing objectives for the campaign, audience, and platform when trying to determine which level of integration to choose.
“Look for programs that create a natural fit for the brand and offer a variety of content types and integrations. Allow the consumer to go deeper with their content choices,” the report says. “Sophisticated publishers create content campaigns with a variety of content types, which may include a steady stream of editorial sponsorships with a few supporting custom content articles or videos.”
At Swift Local Solutions, we work with clients to customize native advertising campaigns that meet their needs. If purchase intent is your objective, we’ll work to create engaging, customized content with a heavier brand integration. If you instead want to position your business as the expert in your field, we will create custom content that meets that long-term objective.
We’re finding that for longer campaigns, it’s beneficial for advertisers to aim to achieve multiple goals with their native advertisements, as the Ipsos Connect and Polar report also suggests. We might include a mix of light and heavy brand integration over time, telling authentic stories that resonate with our readers, and strongly position our advertisers for future brand loyalty, engagement, and purchases.