Branded-Content Debate Heats Up

Marketers and studios are as fascinated by branded entertainment as ever, but they still can’t agree on how to price such deals—or even if there should be a standard pricing measurement at all.

That was a key debate last week at The Next Big Idea: The Future of Branded Entertainment, a conference hosted by Adweek Magazines, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Nielsen Media Research with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles.

The hotly debated issue of developing a metric for pricing branded-entertainment deals brought a wide range of opinions. Several companies, from Nielsen to iTVX, IAG and the Salter Group, are working on methods that mix ratings information with duration of placement and/or airtime, and other integration factors to gauge value.

“Perhaps if the goal is to measure sales, or the number of vehicles or volume of beverages sold,” said Stephanie Sperber, evp of Universal Studios Partnerships, “but for most of us it’s not desirable to measure,” since partners use entertainment assets to build less quantifiable things such as brand awareness. “I think all the buzz about media and measurement is created by the media.”

Many players seemed to favor a “don’t kiss and tell” policy with regard to pricing, in effect shielding themselves from having to prove a precise ROI. In a session on deal-making, studios and client executives stressed the importance of solid relationships between parties who have already done successful deals.

“Get in bed with an experienced partner,” advised Chris Monaco, director of entertainment marketing at Allied Domecq North America, to brands seeking their first content-integration campaigns. “Spooning will lead to foreplay.”

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