Using Branded Content to Put Social into Social Advertising

Jon Steinberg (BuzzFeed)
Social Media
Location: New York West Level:

In a prior digital era, brands had banners and rich media units, but, today, almost every leading brand is creating a much richer grade of asset: branded content.

The brand is typically looking to get this content as shared as possible – viral. There lots of ways to do this, but one powerful strategy is “treatments”—integrating one video into several lists and perhaps placing it in context with a related quiz; in some cases, a treatment can even be done in the absence of assets, with calls to action that follow, and don’t dominate, the content. This approach lets the brand experiment to find the most viral packaging for their ideas.

The difference between the viral lift (earned media or sharing) of one treatment and another can be hundreds of percent, even with the exact same video as its centerpiece. In this session, we’ll look at a number of treatments different brands have tried and the outcomes.

One final point, the Branded Content at the heart of this strategy is old, not new. The growth of branded content online mirrors what we’ve known for a long time. Writing in the 1970s and 1980s in “Ogilvy on Advertising,” David Ogilvy, wrote, “long copy sells more than short copy.” He expounds on this logic by arguing for ads that have newsworthy information, specific facts, credible information, and learnings.

Jon Steinberg


Jon Steinberg is the President of BuzzFeed in NYC. He was previously Strategic Partner Development Manager on Google’s SMB (Small Medium Business) Partnerships team. Prior to Google, Jon was the Director of Business Development at Majestic Research and the founder of iBuilding, a commercial real estate software company backed by Tishman Speyer Properties, Benchmark Capital, and 12 Entrepreneuring. He is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and holds an MBA from Columbia University. He lives with his wife and two little kids on the Upper East Side

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