Collaborate to survive: the future of branded entertainment

As top marketers increasingly see YouTube and other online platforms as a viable avenue to reach consumers with engaging video content, Canadian producers must be ready to bypass broadcasters and the traditional TV model to produce programming directly for and with a brand.

That’s the message from the third and final white paper on branded entertainment from the Canadian Media Production Association released on Tuesday, titled The Future of Branded Entertainment.

“The biggest take-away for producers is to understand how to develop with brands rather than shoe-horning an existing show idea into a brand’s brief,” Duopoly’s Catherine Tait, who prepared the report, said in a statement that accompanied the publication.

The white paper argued producers can no longer rely on pitching programming to a commissioning network, and then having advertisers and agencies buy time around that content with commercials.

Emerging digital technology and platforms is instead handing brand marketers increasing opportunities to connect directly with consumers.

“By and large, the brands seem in the strongest position. They’ve always funded programming; now they are taking a far more active position in its creation, ownership and distribution,” the CMPA report stated.

The result is brands financing the cost of programming for a target market, which producers deliver to hopefully connect with consumers.

That production model shift calls for content makers to integrate brands into stories, and initially most prominently on mobile with engaging video streaming content.

Producers will also be expected to continually mine audience data to refine how they target consumers, and to think “big” to reach audiences in a noisy, crowded market.

Ultimately, it’s about partnerships, the white paper concludes.

“As producers delve into the world of branded entertainment, the need for collaboration with the other parties that have traditionally occupied this space is critical,” the report stated.

And that collaboration must extend to producers and agencies jointly pitching broadcasters and advertisers, long the gate-keepers for a fast-changing TV industry.

“Producers and creative agencies often have complimentary skill sets and together can develop and pitch brands or broadcasters,” the report added.