Connected TVs – the natural home for branded content

In today’s highly connected society, successful brands need to stand out from the crowd. More and more, brands are looking for opportunities to create meaningful consumer connections and are using branded content to increase engagement, reach new audiences and convert immersive brand experiences into ROI.

Combining advertising and entertainment, interactive ads and branded content have been developed and implemented by a range of leading brands – take Saturday’s Shazam-enabled Argos advert during X Factor, or Mercedes’ interactive twitter ad that allowed consumers to direct content they saw on the screen. Everyone from M&S to Chipotle is looking to leverage this new method of addressing consumers in some form – incidentally, the latter recently won the first ever branded content Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Lions Festival. 

Unlike ad campaigns, branded content has previously been limited to online marketing; but with the rise of Internet connected TVs branded content is making the long-awaited leap to the larger screen, engaging consumers from the comfort of their sofas.

Connected TVs are on the rise

No matter which statistics you look at, connected TVs are undoubtedly heading mainstream. Recent research projected smart TV households in Western Europe will grow to 40 million by the end of this year, increasing by 39% to 55 million homes in 2013. And with virtually every major consumer electronics manufacturer on board, consumers can take their pick from the leading connected TVs and Blu-ray player brands.

And what about this new realm of consumer targets, the users of connected TVs? Parks Associates research profiled connected TV owners in the UK as young, successful and likely to be male when compared to the national average. Nearly 40% are upper-middle class. Over 70% closely follow the latest developments in new technology, and their ownership of other devices such as games consoles and tablets is considerably higher than the national average. For example, these consumers are 7 times more likely to own a tablet than the average UK consumer.

Made for the big screen

While traditionally developed for the small screen, branded content is often professionally produced and high-quality content – perfect for the big screen. And while internet video quality can be great, the smaller screen will never give the same impact and appeal when compared to video on the big screen.

 

Connected TVs bring the capabilities and functionality of the web to the TV, giving marketers the opportunity to develop stunning branded content destinations that are highly immersive and can offer multiple videos, rich graphics and advanced interactivity – QR codes, polling and T-commerce.

Connected TV ROI

Alongside the broad range of features, connected TV advertising can also offer marketers previously unobtainable detailed campaign metrics providing brands easy assessment of performance from impressions to viewer interactions.

Receptivity towards connected TV ads also demonstrates the great returns this new realm of branded content can provide; recent research from recent research from demonstrates that 68% of connected TV users noticed the presence of connected TV ads and a staggering 1 in 3 indicated that they actually respond to them with a click.

Similar research from Parks Associates shows just how connected ads are prompting users to do more brand and product related activities:

1. 47% plan to research the product at a later date

2.  38% told a friend or family member about the product

3. 33% immediately investigated the product

4. 31% visited the brand’s website

5.  27% purchased the product

The unobtrusive method of advertising

While we are asserting that branded content should make its way into the living room, marketers need to avoid falling into the pattern of the 30-second TV spot or viral video. The most popular destination for branded content today is YouTube – but it’s inherently difficult for brands to stand out against ‘Gangnam Style’ and dancing babies.

To try and replicate this style in a connected TV environment would doom branded content to the realm of pure advertising. Connected TV advertising is an entirely new form of promotion that’s elegantly inserted into the device experience and delivers to the consumer at a point when they are making a decision about what to watch and therefore, before they come engrossed in a piece of content. And because ad engagement is entirely consumer-led, users have more control over the way they are advertised to.

In their less-intrusive style, connected TV spots are not only being noticed by consumers but are also increasingly well received. A recent connected advertising receptivity study showed that 67% of consumers believe connected TV ads are less disruptive than traditional TV ads; the same study also found that more than 52% of households exposed to connected ads indicated they were open to advertising while they are searching for programs to watch.

With the rise of connected TVs, the paradigm is shifting once again and offers marketers an uncluttered ad environment where compelling content is readily noticed and easily accessible. Marketers are investing in high quality, well produced video – so it makes sense for them to place it where consumers prefer to interact and enjoy it… on the big screen at home.

Jeff Siegel, SVP of Worldwide Advertising at Rovi.