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Ad-Blockalypse: The rise of branded content


The term branded content has been thrown around by marketers and advertisers these few years without a clear definition. I define branded content as any piece of non-traditional execution that pushes the brand message (that excludes any above the line executions like billboards and online display ads with the exception of content marketing). I’m here to tell you that Branded Content is the key to saving our client’s dollars and a more effective way to advertise.

According to a report by Pagefair in 2017, 11% of the global internet population is actively blocking ads on the web with a 30% YOY growth. A vast majority of users surveyed also reported that they would abandon websites that forces them to disable adblockers. More and more EDMs are now being flagged as junk mail by email clients. These trends can hurt the effectiveness and the revenue of media owners and publishers. However, it’ll incentivize publishers and clients to create more branded content. Because simply, branded content is more fun to work on and it has a lower chance of getting blocked by ad-blockers.

Chinese New Year – Branded content domination
Tiger beer is a Singaporean beer brand and its customary for brands to post a branded message but instead of posting generic CNY greetings, BBDO Singapore decided to commission a short titled: The Letter which featured an elderly father writing to his children who would be spending CNY overseas.


It’s a simple premise but the heart wrenching 90 second short saw 400,000 views and received 400 shares in less than 2 weeks. The short instilled a very subtle sense of patriotism into Singaporeans with its foreign versus local subtext in the form of homecoming.  A simple call to action and branded promotion was all that’s needed to drive sales of Tiger Beer during the festive season. A simple 90 seconds and 2 weeks of production accomplished what $10,000 worth of man hours and digital media buy would get you in an entire week – and more importantly, the consumer didn’t feel tricked or sold to.

They either connected with the melancholy of the parent or the homesickness of the children. I’m not going to lie, I was in tears in the middle of class when I watched the short. I even like-ed the Tiger Beer Facebook page. This spot wasn’t on TV, it wasn’t print nor OOH. It was just 90 seconds of moving imagery posted on Facebook – branded content. A similar short was also commissioned by Singaporean telco Singtel with a similar premise and storyline, the short was titled Mr. Lim’s Reunion Dinner commissioned by AOR BBH Singapore and social media agency GoodStuph. In just two months, the post garnered 71K shares and 9.4m views on Facebook alone.

You wanna block a banner but you won’t block your friend’s shares
This is the power of branded content, we cannot rely on the old and expensive shotgun approach when it comes to consumers. Our generation was born into vapid brand messaging and honestly, we’re numb to it. Marketers and advertisers need to find the chinks in our armor – we want to be touched (metaphorically not literally) and entertained not sold. Because if not, consider your ads…Blocked