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TV Networks Dramatically Boost Branded-Content Output on Facebook

Variety logo Variety 5/17/2017 Todd Spangler

Amid this year’s TV upfront hustle to lock down billions in ad-spending commitments, expect networks to more aggressively pitch Madison Avenue buyers on branded-content campaigns — which have exploded across social media during the current TV season.

On Facebook alone, the number of branded posts across all TV pages increased by 77% from October 2016 to March 2017, according to an analysis by social-media analytics firm ListenFirst Media. In the first quarter of 2017, branded posts comprised less than 1% of content published across TV show pages on Facebook — meaning networks have plenty of room to funnel more sponsored content into that pipeline.

Here’s one of the kickers: The branded content from TV networks on average returned a whopping 105% higher engagement (likes, shares, and comments) than non-branded posts. ListenFirst analyzes social-media activity of the top 150 TV programmers in the U.S., tracking several thousand shows each month.

“For media companies, branded content represents new inventory and a new revenue stream that can drive significant, measured return for brand partners,” said ListenFirst co-CEO Jason Klein. “The strong, early signs” for TV networks producing branded content, along with Facebook’s new tools for brands and publishers, “signal that branded content will be the next big marketplace in the advertising ecosystem. And we expect Instagram and Twitter are not far behind,” he said.

In Q1, Fox’s “Empire” and Pepsi — the top advertiser of branded content in the TV sector — launched a nine-episode “Emerge” spinoff series from the show. On Facebook, the campaign’s second episode had the top branded-content post for the quarter, and has been viewed more than 9.7 million times to date (watch below, and at this link). Overall, Pepsi-“Empire” posts had nearly 110,000 engagements on average.

Meanwhile, NBC grabbed the No. 1 spot in terms of average engagement per branded post published by a TV network. The Peacock’s freshman hit drama “This Is Us” (pictured above) garnered third place in audience engagement with its “Share the Moment” series of clips sponsored by Chevrolet, after the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” campaign with Mars Inc.’s M&M’s.

Of all networks, Discovery Communications published the most branded content in Q1 with 225 posts, followed by Disney-ABC Television Group (124 posts) and Fox (77 posts).

Facebook does not take a cut of the revenue for branded content published on its service, but it does have specific restrictions and requirements for such sponsored material. For example, title cards are not permitted within a sponsored video’s first three seconds and videos may not include discrete commercials. Facebook recently changed its policies to allow logos, watermarks, and graphical overlays to persist throughout a video.

Among advertisers that bought branded TV branded content in Q1, automotive was the top category (Chevrolet, GMC, Subaru, Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Lincoln) followed by retail (84 Lumber Company, Jared, Wayfair, Target, and JCPenney), consumer packaged goods (Pepsi, M&M’s, Quaker, Farm Rich, Arm & Hammer, Lay’s), telecom (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile), and beauty (Cover Girl, Rimmel London, Neutrogena, L’Oreal).

Other recent branded content from TV nets on Facebook include Fox’s Lincoln-sponsored “Empire” aftershowAdult Swim’s announcement of the return of “Samurai Jack” with Old Spice; and TNT’s “SAG Awards” teaser with Dove Chocolate.

© Provided by Variety

Source: ListenFirst Media

© Provided by Variety

Source: ListenFirst Media

© Provided by Variety

Source: ListenFirst Media

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