Stop trying to be entertaining or inspiring: more than half of Canadian consumers want native ads or other forms of branded content that focus on making them feel more informed and educated, according to the results of a survey commissioned by Toronto-based StackAdapt.
The company, which offers a platform for distributing and promoting branded content, worked with Leger Marketing to get responses from more than 1,500 Canadians about how they are consuming information about brands and the ways it influenced their relationships. Overall, 55% said that content about a brand influenced their purchase decision, but only 17% said they were looking for content that’s entertaining. A scant 7%, meanwhile, were looking for inspiration from brands.
“That one surprised me,” admitted Vitaly Pecherskiy, co-founder of StackAdapt (and a Marketing 30 Under 30 alum).
“There are so many brands that produce this sort of moving content, but very few people found it useful in making a decision about a brand.”
The good news is, branded content, such as a post on a company’s blog, created a feeling of trust among 43% of those surveyed. This stat shot up to 51% for those aged 18 to 44. There were some other demographic differences: 24% of younger Canadians found entertaining branded content useful, for example.
For Pecherskiy, the research is important because it helps customers of StackAdapt’s platforms have a better understanding of why traditional approaches to building brand affinity may not be as effective.
“It’s an overall shift from that transactional model of advertising in favour of a deeper relationship,” he said. “A lot of people today are buying something not because it’s cheaper, but connecting to people on their value level.”
In the same way, certain categories may be find it easier to approach branded content. Those in the travel industry, for instance, can theoretically tell an infinite number of stories about various destinations. Firms that have traditionally competed on price might find the transition more difficult, Pecherskiy said.
The increasing interest in branded content is coming at a time when concerns about ad blocking is at an all-time high. Whether companies create branded content in-house or via a third party, what StackAdapt and other firms are offering is a means to ensure such content gets distributed and noticed.
“I think it’s a bit like banner blindess 2.0. People used to faze online ads out, now they’re trying to block them,” he said. “Branded content creation is not necessarily a vehicle to combat ad blocking, but a new medium to better connect with consumers.”
In general, the StackAdapt study showed 68% of Canadians said they prefer to learn about new brands online as compared to traditional methods like print (33%), direct mail (21%), and radio (17%), and that number jumps to 84% for Canadians aged 18-44.