As a trend spotter for most of my career, one of the things I look for is the announcement of “newly created roles” at companies and agencies. The latest of this to hit my radar is “VP, content creation,” “VP, digital content,” or even “editor” for a brand marketer. It's part of a series of interesting comments made by brands and their agencies about building newsrooms to contribute content as frequently and as tactically as media properties would. And like those media, this content includes text and video, long and short form for both, as well as a desire for that content to be readily shared with friends and other acquaintances.

As my colleague Tracy Stokes pointed out in a recent blog post, the interest in branded content is based on the realization that old-school push communications have lost impact with consumers. And we’re not just talking TV and print here. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that digital ads such as banner ads, text, and mobile apps are the least trusted form of advertising communications; only 10% of US online adults trust banner ads on websites. With multiple connected devices at their fingertips, today’s perpetually connected consumers can opt in or out of content on a whim, behavior that is exacerbated by those whose mind shift is such that their mobile device is the core of all digital activity. Branded content offers an opportunity to truly engage with consumers in a way that marketers have never done before. 
But how does a brand put its arms around content? Apply Forrester’s four C's framework to develop the foundation upon which to use branded content to build your brand:
Capture the brand’s North Star in branded content. Authenticity is critical for branded content. And authentic content begins with knowing who you are. So ask yourself, what’s your brand North Star? 
  • Connect to consumers in context. Having great content is not enough.
  • Consider the context in which it will be consumed. Are your consumers looking for quick-hit information on their smartphones, snackable content on Facebook, or in-depth information on your website? 
  • Create visible value. What topics can you credibly provide value on, through information, education, or entertainment? Don't just create it; make it clear where the value is provided.
  • Continuously measure and optimize results. Go beyond tracking data to measuring impact. Tie results like brand lift, content shares, and unaided recognition of the content to metrics that run the business like leads or sales.
To learn more, check out Tracy's report "How To Build Your Brand With Branded Content" (client access required), or if you are able, come to my presentation in London at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA on May 21st and 22nd to learn more about creating brand advantage with perpetually connected customers.