Forbes Study Says Forbes’ Branded Content Totally Works

So we’re all busy talking about “branded content” right now, but we don’t really have much in the way of research demonstrating how effective if can be. Forbes has been in that game longer than most, and they just commissioned a study from IPG Media Labs to prove that their stuff is worth the money. Let’s review.

After customers read five pages from the Forbes online BrandVoices project, IPG concluded that they were:

  • 41% more likely to express an “intent to buy” the brand’s products
  • 28% more likely to report having a favorable view of the brand

Here are the key numbers in our minds:

  • 41% said they were more likely to share the content after reading it on Forbes than if they’d read it on the brand’s own website
  • They were 20% more likely to remember the brand by name after seeing said articles than display ads and 15% more likely to remember it when the article was paired with display ads
  • Those who were “satisfied” by the articles were 17% more likely to report favorable impressions than those who weren’t

So basically, your content needs to appear in a third-party publication, it needs to be paired with traditional ads and it needs to be good.

We’re still a little skeptical.

The study’s biggest conclusion is that content encourages people to buy more stuff, but the products promoted were Chrysler, Charles Schwab and Woodford Reserve—and who doesn’t like buy Woodford Reserve?!

The numbers for positive opinions weren’t that much higher among the sponsored content group than the control group either: only 4-5% more readers rated the brands as “personable” or “trustworthy” after seeing the sponsored ads. The problem here is that readers already liked all the brands involved.

There may well be a study proving that branded content is the future, but we’re not sure this is the one.