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How brands can tackle ad avoidance

3 minute read | October 2021

The power to engage and inspire consumers involves innovative grit, and brands around the world aspire to rise above the rest by creating ads that consumers simply can’t bypass. Lofty aspirations aside, however, we know there will always be at least some resistance to advertising—no matter how inspiring it may be.

Advertising remains vital to the media industry, but the growing array of content options presents two primary challenges for advertisers: 1) Consumers don’t all experience the same content and 2) Ad-free experiences are available—for a price—and they appeal to many. 

While brands shouldn’t abandon their traditional advertising strategies, they certainly do need tailored initiatives to engage with their audiences—especially as the media landscape fragments across platforms and services. Importantly, there is an opportunity for strategies to focus on more than traditional advertising.

From an engagement perspective, branded content can be an effective alternative because it’s typically developed to resemble editorial content instead of traditional advertising. Given the heavier focus on storytelling and brand journalism in this type of content, Nielsen’s Branded Content Effectiveness studies have found that viewers of branded content are 62% more likely to react positively than those who watch 30-second TV ads. Additionally, 67% say they find branded content more entertaining, relevant and more likely to help them remember the brand.

Branded content viewers are 62% more likely to react positively than those who see 30-second ads.

Immersive gaming experiences are another growing opportunity for brands, including those that aren’t closely connected to video game culture. Mastercard, for example, is a brand that few would likely associate with esports, yet it has found notable upside in the space. In addition to reaching an audience that differs from its traditional clientele, Mastercard’s integration in Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship (LCS) series allows players to keep their card on file and use it for in-game e-commerce use.

Despite the growing range of newer marketing options, marketers surveyed for this year’s Nielsen Annual Marketing Report said they’re not interested in new ad formats like branded integrations and product placements. Only 19% said they consider these options very or extremely important, and 31% said they consider these formats very or extremely difficult to measure.

Measurement remains a hurdle for many advertisers, especially in non-traditional marketing efforts, such as product placements and brand integrations. These strategies  in TV programming and movies aren’t new, but assessing their impact has been a long-standing challenge. 

To help in this regard amid the rise of ad-free SVOD programming, Nielsen developed a metric that allows for SVOD brand integrations to be tracked in ways that put it on the same playing field as traditional advertising—using the traditional 30-second ad spot as a baseline.

To illustrate how brands and agencies can leverage this metric, Nielsen analyzed the viewership of the Netflix program Cobra Kai to assess the equivalized value of the branded integrations within the first four weeks the program was available to stream. Coors is the most prominent brand in the program, and the show’s lead character Johnny Lawrence drinks a lot of it. That favoritism pays off, as Coors exposures garnered almost 170 million equivalized and valued impressions among viewers 21 and older through the first four weeks the program was available on Netflix.

Branded integrations in SVOD content also provide marketers with incremental reach. Importantly, traditional television continues to reach a broad range of consumers, but a notable portion of streamers don’t watch any linear TV. For example, between Aug. 28, 2020, and Sept. 3, 2020, 10.4% of Cobra Kai viewers didn’t watch any linear TV. That means understanding channel preference and engagement has never been more important for brands looking to engage with media-savvy consumers—across SVOD platforms and all other channels.

For additional insights, download our recent Advertiser Playbook, which identifies five top advertiser challenges and highlights ways to navigate them.

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