Why Branded Content Is A Big Waste Of Time For Most Advertisers

keyboard cat

[credit provider=”YouTube/chuckieart” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiPir6BHUs0″]

Last week I talked about the long running success and cost effectiveness of Blendtec’s “Will it blend” YouTube campaign in comparison to the mostly fruitless, multi-million dollar extravaganzas we can expect to see on the up-coming Super Bowl.Having said that, I don’t expect my awesome powers of persuasion will have convinced the Fortune 100 to switch most of their ad budgets into homemade videos they can saturate YouTube with in the hope that they’ll go “viral.”

Because “viral” is the big flavour of the month these days, along with “branded content,” which is AdComSpeak for the stuff Joe in the mail room made for 10 dollars with his home video camera. The stuff you hope will be so entertaining that millions will watch and be persuaded to become your customers for life.

The problem is, you can’t just stick it out there—somehow you have to tell your intended audience it is now available for their viewing pleasure. You could always cross your fingers and hope they will stumble across it as they troll for cat videos on YouTube whilst pretending to be working on a spreadsheet. But do you have any idea how long it would take an individual to watch every video on YouTube?

The answer is 1,000 years, and every day, there’s about another million videos posted. You could always spend millions on ads pointing people towards your video on YouTube, but that would kinda defeat the object, right? Perhaps you can link to it as part of your elaborately crafted social networking program. You know, the one where you have Joe in the mail room (yeah, the guy with the video camera) post something pithy once a week on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and whatever else is “hot” right now.

As I mentioned last week, all these efforts may generate bucket loads of engagement metrics, but they are of little use when they can’t be traced back to sales that have originated in answer to specific calls to action. This is even more difficult when you commit to the production of “branded content,” which is supposed to be of high entertainment value, rather than a blatantly obvious sales pitch.

Perhaps the key is to remember the valuable word’s of long dead ad legend, David Ogilvy, “The consumer isn’t stupid, she’s your wife,” along with those of fellow long dead ad legend, Howard Gossage. “People don’t read advertising, they read what interests them, and sometimes that’s advertising.” Besides proving that all the best people in advertising are dead, this also shows that with the ever increasing emphasis on mobile as the media of the future, it should serve as a red flag to those creating obtrusive content which delivers no value to the target, merely serving as an interruption to the task at hand.

Never forget, most people think advertising in all its varieties is nothing more than smoke and mirrors dispensed by snake oil salesmen. So why do we constantly reinforce this perception by hitting them over the head with crudely crafted communications we convince ourselves are two way conversations, when in reality they are nothing more than one sided shouting matches?

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, “Confessions of a Mad Man,” makes the TV show “Mad Men” look like “Sesame Street.”