‘Branded content’ is a form of advertising that mixes advertising and editorial content. In 2014, Buzzfeed (an internet news media company) will generate double the revenue of the Mail Online despite reaching a smaller audience. This is due to Buzzfeed’s commitment to a business model entirely focused around branded content.
Will this trend move into football journalism in 2014? And is that a good or a bad thing?
The shift to branded content can be attributed to a few main problems surrounding the traditional banner ad. The most talked about is ‘banner blindness’, the idea that users simply ignore banner ads. This is no doubt a true phenomenon but there is actually a deeper problem. AdBlock Plus, a leading provider of ad blocking software, now claims to have over 300 million registered users. This implies users are not just blind to the ads. They are actively affected by them and are seeking to remove them. Once a user makes this choice, and installs the software, publishers simply don’t make any money.
So how will these changes in the digital landscape affect the football world? How will sports journalism change? Will Puma sponsor articles about Arsenal? Will brands avoid traditional ‘sponsorship’ and focus on branding digital content instead? This would certainly spread the wealth within football, as brands find unofficial ways to target football fans.
It might be coming sooner than you think. Does it even matter? If a brand takes the time to develop a valuable piece of content that adds to the user experience, increases brand trust and pays the publisher handsomely, then everyone wins.
Branded content allows users to experience a cleaner site with no ‘traditional’ advertising. It also allows users to ‘skip’ ads simply by not reading promoted stories.
What do you think? Do you mind if football articles are sponsored by brands? Comment below.
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