- The most important thing of all is to know why you're doing it. Set yourself clear objectives from day one. However, brand content programming is about partnership and good relationships. Establishing and understanding the objectives, roles and contributions of the other stakeholders from the start is of equal importance.
- Get help. This is an exciting but somewhat complex market, where a little help with navigation can go a long way. Ask the right questions at the beginning: e.g. who has the idea and who owns it? Who deals with commissioners, broadcasters? Who deals with the production company? Who does the deal and who is the contract with? Who owns and handles syndication and secondary rights? Who implements the off-air? Who owns the off-air? Consider how you will justify your Advertiser Funded Programming. How will the ROI be measured - hard measures, such as product sales, shareholder value, or soft measures, such as brand perceptions and awareness? How will the AFP fit into your broader communications?
- The programme format must be strong and stand out against its competition. It must justify its own place in the schedule as well as fulfil the marketing expectations of the client. Making a hit TV programme is difficult. Getting a place in the schedule is the target for an industry of talented producers in a competitive market: 95% of their programme ideas won't get a commission. The best ones that fit, will.
- It follows that there is stiffer competition for a peak slot on a terrestrial channel. Big numbers have their place. However, it's not all about reach. Advertisers can use the multi-channel world of today's television to create destination programming for tightly targeted groups. There are also opportunities for brands to co-create content and engage with viewers through trusted broadcaster on-demand services. Consumers will seek out content brands, if the content and call-to-action is right.
- Programme partnerships can yield real benefits for all parties. However the journey can be a long one from the first meeting to the post-broadcast party. Continual project management is required to deliver a satisfactory result. Time frames can be long and the time committed may be more than you think. Scheduling changes are prevalent within all broadcasters - slots cannot and will not be guaranteed. The trick is to deliver the best product possible, which will then be scheduled by the broadcaster as best as possible. Remember too, that broadcasters often schedule 4-6 months ahead of transmission, although there are examples of some very swiftly created and broadcast AFPs.
- To get the most out of branded content, clients must work to deliver value off-air via their own marketing or commercial activity. The broadcast sponsorship element of an AFP in isolation will not provide an ROI; there must be other routes to delivering realisable value, either via international markets, off-air initiatives or multi-channel distribution. In most cases, branded content adds weight and cut-through to the client's total communication mix. High brand awareness, driven by other TV and non-TV activities creates a better platform for AFP.
- With a lack of prime time branded content slots, clients should invest in marketing support to promote the programme itself. As the equal stakeholder model suggests, it's in all parties' interest to get share of viewership.
- Don't be too literal about the link between brand and content: it's about shared values. Enjoy the journey!
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