Exploring the Future of Branded Content & New Media (One Fail at a Time)

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been doing this show for a half a year now. And if failing is the quickest way to learn, this YouTube series has been a PhD course in the future of branded content and media. Stick around to find out why.
02/15/2019

If you’re a fan of Marketing Is Broken, you’ve probably gotten the hang of our format by now. Each week we cover a story from the marketing industry and then explore some aspect of the issue in greater detail to reveal insights and add perspective for people just like you.

This week, the news is us and the deeper insight and perspective has to do with why we created this show in the first place. Let’s jump right in.

If the concept to this show seems familiar, that’s because Marketing Is Broken is pretty much just Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, but for marketers.

Now, we didn’t imitate Mr. Oliver because he really is an objectively attractive man or even because he is the type of guy to give a random shout-out on his show to people who shamelessly flatter him on the Internet.

We picked this format because we have a theory that the future of branded content and content marketing lies in video. And not just any video. The key to success will be to look and feel as much like TV as possible.

4 Branded Content Fails (and Tips)

The trick is, TV-level quality is expensive and takes a lot of time and talent to produce.

When you’re short on time, budget and arguably talent, you make a lot of mistakes along the way.

So here are four lessons we’ve learned about the future of new media from our first 26 weeks of failing.

Fail Number One: Production Value Vs. Budget

The first the first major fail came from trying to achieve the same production value as TV.

We were inspired by Wistia’s One, Ten, One Hundred video series where they demonstrated how you could create an excellent ad on one thousand dollars, ten thousand dollars, and one hundred thousand dollars.

Given that we’re bootstrapped, we wanted to see if we could create the $1,000 version of a news show.  We started off the first episode with a premise, a loose script, and a green screen background. Here's what it looked like:

As the weeks went on, we added lights, different camera equipment, a teleprompter, a script, and made a lot of enhancements to the digital background and other effects.

We’re still trying to figure out how to get the highest production value for the lowest investment, but each week is another opportunity to learn.

Fail Number Two: Time Vs. Quality

In episode 16, we learned how the amount of time you have to write a script is directly related to the quality of the show.

That week, the show was a video response to a critique that marketing columnist and Professor, Mark Ritson, made about entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s thoughts on new media.

I failed hard that week because I was running low on time. My thoughts were a little scattered and I didn't support my arguments with credible sources. It honestly wasn’t our best work.

What happened next was pretty cringe-worthy. Mark Ritson actually watched the video and then shared it with his followers along with one of his trademark witty insults.


His fans joined in and I spent the better part of the weekend getting completely and utterly roasted on Twitter. One person even writer shamed me, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

The lesson here? Production value only helps so much, but the real measure of quality for web shows is in the script.

Fail #3: Not Paying to Play

Seriously… organic reach is dead and for some reason, outreach always feels so dirty to me. Before we started promoting the show, we’d only get a handful of views from our organic efforts.

Now even spending $25 to boost an episode to our target audience has resulted in hundreds, sometimes thousands of views each week. And our subscriber growth is showing signs of growth.

Fail #4: Not Taking Creative Risks

Last but not least, we’re still too scared to take creative risks. When you watch shows like Last Week Tonight, you can’t help but say to yourself, “Where do they come up with this stuff?” It’s hilarious.

And yet, that’s probably the hardest part.

Whether it’s voicing strong opinions, making jokes, or even using certain metaphors, my biggest failure, by far, has been using the delete key on my laptop more than all the letters combined out of fear that I’ll be misunderstood or that people won’t get the reference.

And yet, over the months, the likes and comments from people like you have encouraged us to explore this side of the series more and more.

Your Thoughts On Branded Content & Media?

So there you have. We may not know exactly what the future of branded content marketing and new media looks like, but Marketing Is Broken helps us see things more clearly by failing one week at a time.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite Marketing Is Broken episode or moment? If you were producing the show, what would you do differently? In the spirit of reflection, hit us up with your most constructive feedback and you might just win a shirt. We’ll see you next time

Author: Josh Braaten

CEO - Brandish Insights

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