| Oct 10, 2018

The Rise of Branded Content


Whether scrolling through your social media feeds or browsing your favorite website, chances are you’ve come across a piece of branded content. Perhaps you thought you were just watching a video about the 8 best summer grilling hacks, or reading an article about the top shows coming out this fall, or even a profile of a rural Iowan farmer; in reality however you were interacting with advertisements for grocery stores, popcorn, and a health care & agriculture company.

What is branded content?

Branded content is editorial content funded entirely by the brand itself, under the guise of content these articles, videos and social posts receive more interaction, particularly among young people, than traditional advertisements. One brand that has strongly embraced the use of branded content is Netflix. The streaming media innovator has been one of the top brands utilizing branded content over the past two years according to data available through Numerator.


Netflix’s use of branded content allows them to target specific demographics to promote their original tv shows, movies or documentaries. Like a Quincy Jones profile in Rolling Stone to accompany a recently released documentary on the 27 time Grammy award winner, or video interviews with a criminal investigator specializing in money laundering on Vice to promote the release of the Netflix original show Ozark. These examples of branded content are placed in publications directly associated with the target audience demographic, increasing the already higher levels of interactions these cleverly disguised advertisements receive.

Younger consumers general skepticism of traditional advertising has paved the path for the rise of branded content. As noted in his April 2018 article on Forbes, media & entertainment reporter Alan Wolk notes “The fact that traditional advertising is now being deemed “interruptive advertising” is a fairly clear marker that audiences are over that format. Fourteen minutes worth of interruptive advertising each hour doesn’t help, nor does the proliferation of pharma advertising, the vast majority of which forces us to think about death and dying for sixty seconds at a time.”

Wolk ends his article by stating that now is the time to get into branded content if you’re a brand. As we can see from the chart above, Netflix is one such brand to have already embraced this method and nine months into the year have already surpassed their total branded content output from 2017.