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CES 2015: Branded content at heart of production

CES 2015: Branded content at heart of production
Samantha Glynne, VP of Branded Entertainment at FremantleMedia, reports back on what CES 2015 meant for branded content producers.

Most of us make New Year's resolutions - to lose weight, do more exercise, go to bed earlier or drink less - but only one in 10 of us will achieve our goal.

However, the odds are very much diminished if you start the year in Las Vegas, where the air is conditioned, the buffets are all-you-can-eat and Happy Hour is 24/7.

Las Vegas was where I found myself at the start of January, attending CES 2015. I got to see the very latest TVs, audio equipment, laptops, 3D printers and wearable tech, plus I glimpsed the future via talking robots and augmented reality.

It made me think how rapidly technology is evolving and how much this affects all of us in the communications industry.

This means it’s nigh on impossible to make any realistic predictions – or indeed resolutions – for the next 12 months.

When I started working in branded content just over a decade ago, it was all relatively simple.

I was a producer at a TV company and we made advertiser-funded programmes which were broadcast once or twice in a non-primetime slot on a TV channel. That was it.

My team were seen as the outsiders who made weird corporate stuff that no one really wanted to watch.

Change happened slowly at first. OTT platforms, VOD and PVRs all came into being, giving branded content a longer and more varied life.

Advertisers began to wake up to the fact that people weren’t watching 30-second ads while Account Directors talked about ‘branded entertainment’ without necessarily understanding what it was.

Soon, though, people were watching video online.

In 2005 a small internet network called YouTube was born.

Other social and video platforms mushroomed; broadband, smartphones and tablets became mainstream; a new generation of digital natives took over.

And now here we are.

Technology has changed branded content more than any other factor. You can now produce and upload content for peanuts.

Brands can track and measure its success and collect data from its audience. Compliance online has none of the constraints of on-air and the number of publishing platforms has grown meteorically.

In tandem, agencies and TV producers have come up with some brilliant brand-funded entertainment that have won awards, including Cannes Lions and Baftas. Branded Content has started to grow up.

Every year I’ve been forced to reassess what branded content is. It can still be a TV programme, but it’s also a video insert, some product placement, a sponsorship deal, or even a channel.

It can exist on a website, as video on YouTube, as a post on Facebook, or a Tweet, a Vine, a Gif, a Blog, a Vlog, an article, a listicle, a magazine, a game, a film or a novel.

It can be live, recorded, long, short, subtle, blatant, authentic, sophisticated, limitless.

As branded content creators we’re no longer on the outside, we’re now right at the heart of creative, media and TV production.

While I was in Las Vegas, I also got to meet the pioneers plotting new adventures for 2015.

The ‘old’ vanguard such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube talked about their upcoming innovations for video content while the new kids on the block – Vessel, Twitch, Victorious to name just a handful - have ingenious plans to revolutionise the way we think about what we make and how we watch it.

After leaving Las Vegas I had, naturally, broken every New Year’s resolution in a record-breaking fortnight.

But I also felt more refreshed than ever, because this year we will make branded content every which way we can.

No one can truly predict how the landscape will change, but it is bound to undergo seismic shifts – which can only help our industry grow and flourish.

Samantha Glynne is vice-president of branded entertainment at FremantleMedia.

For more on latest tech and innovation, watch our SXSW 2014 talks below.

Last updated 09/02/2015

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