Rentrak and Millward Brown Look at the Value of Branded Entertainment

In the past I’ve had a co-author on the blog, but as a holiday present to you (and to myself) I’m proud that Dr. Raymond Pettit, Rentrak’s Chief Analytics Officer, is guest-authoring this post with Bill Pink, Senior Partner at Millward Brown. (Best of the Season to you and yours!)

– Bruce Goerlich

Thanks, Bruce for those kind words! Most of us who work today in advertising, marketing, and media often don’t think much about the history of our field. So perhaps it is surprising that Babylonian Kings “branded” themselves by stenciling their names onto temples they built, and that shop signs and street barkers were abundant in those ancient times. In fact, the earliest written advertisement, which sits today in the British Museum, is from Ancient Egypt and dated 1000 B.C.

Ship AdThe first paper package advertisement—found in an ancient tomb in central China’s Hunan Province—is remarkably similar to modern ads. The advertising “copy” describes the variety, quality and characteristics of the product, and the address of the store is included. Part of the messaging even embodies a “unique selling proposition,” presumably used to influence the reader’s purchase.

In England, the earliest surviving printed advertisement was a poster. In 1472, William Caxton placed his “advert” on a high traffic area—church doors—to announce the sale of a new book. In America, the earliest printed ad appeared in 1704. Oddly enough, this was an advertisement for placing advertisements, which would probably earn a smile from even the most cynical of modern advertising executives.

The point of our brief history lesson is to suggest that humans engaged in commerce have a fundamental urge to combine communication and creative efforts with tactics to “ring the bell,” get attention, and persuade or influence people to buy their product.

The basic principles of advertising still exist, obviously. Yet a rapidly advancing revolution is going on in marketing, advertising, and media today. It is unstoppable, driven by people’s ability to engage with multiple points of media content now—right at their fingertips. Enabled and enhanced by new technologies and devices, this “constant content contact” permeates all media and creates an increasing variety and abundance of behavioral data streams and cognitive/emotional markers that brands and advertisers are just starting to grapple with and understand.

Branded Content and Entertainment Have Arrived

BE CollageThe formula is pretty simple. Technology has expanded our ability to consume and experience media content in many forms, on many different screens in particular. At the same time, we are also better equipped to ‘”avoid” advertising at every turn. Yet we can, and do, engage with, interact, and experience the brand in content exactly where we are exposed to it every day: on TV, on our iPad, on the web, on our mobile phone, even on “out-of-home” screens in malls, hotels, theaters, elevators, and gas pumps!

This fundamental dynamic of “branding moments” blended into “constant content contact” has the potential to attract, influence, and build legitimate, measurable brand bonds and relationships, yet is vastly underserved (in terms of measurement) in comparison to traditional advertising, which has the lion’s share of attention. Rentrak has carved out a leadership position in the branded entertainment space by combining the power of massive and passive data with a unique branded content analysis system that is scalable, efficient, and thorough in coverage. Our tools now allow advertisers, planners, networks and agencies to understand the “total media” value of a telecast, film, or digital content, including the increasingly important branded content piece.

I want to introduce a recognized expert in the field of brand equity measurement and share a chat I had recently with Bill Pink, Senior Partner, Client Solutions and Analytics, Millward Brown.

RP: Bill, what is Millward Brown’s POV on the current ecosystem of brand measurement?

Brands need to include measurement across different data formats. In essence this means bringing self-report surveys (based on validated models of brand equity) and passive observation of brand exposure and experience together. The “questions” have not changed, but the best way to address them has, driven mostly by the proliferation of new forms of data we can now collect on consumers/viewers.

RP: What is your opinion of “big data” and how it might change the way we approach measuring brand equity?

BP: I wrote a POV for Millward Brown (entitled “How Big Data Liberates Research”) that posits that so called “big data” is actually a good thing for the long tradition and validated models of brand equity measurement that we have developed. “Big data” compels traditional methods to re-think how surveys are done, how they are constructed, and how best they can efficiently fill the gaps between pure behavioral/observational and cognitive/ attitudinal/emotional data needed to achieve a “holistic” view of brand equity. To over simplify, how best do we provide the “why” behind brand equity dynamics, to best complement passive data collection, which brings a whole new level of information to the table.

RP: Bill, that’s great. Rentrak’s massive granular data sets do open up an extraordinary opportunity to create a level of detailed brand intelligence for the advertiser that is unprecedented. The potential measurement synergy gains are real when we start integrating these two excellent sources of information.

RP: Bill, I am completing a new book entitled “Measuring Branded Moments in Media Content” that will codify and advance the measurement of what most call “branded entertainment.” Given that branding moments in content are rapidly evolving as a new media dynamic to complement traditional advertising, what new directions is Millward Brown taking to address this trend?

BP: Millward Brown has developed the meaningfully different framework, which is both infused with learnings from neuroscience on how people think, feel and act and is validated against in-market behaviors. At its most basic level, the framework presents three fundamental brand characteristics—Meaningfulness— Differentiation—Salience; these are the factors that drive brand equity success, power, and understanding of the brand. From this perspective, we can derive base brand equity, what constitutes a brand premium, and predictive patterns of brand impact. That sets the equity foundation to evaluate against marketing and non-marketing influences, including newer branding moments in content.

RP: I agree, and Rentrak is excited about the opportunities to integrate cross sectional brand measures and time series data to achieve new levels of insight. And we also look forward to tackling the unique challenges of branded content measurement.

BP: Yes. The difficult part is to then establish the right metrics to capture in content exposure for each consumer separate from exposure to more traditional advertising activities that surround the in-content activities, since consumers are typically exposed to both and that makes it hard to identify the unique effects of these activities. We account for that in the design of our research and analytic tools to disentangle these effects.

RP: Thank you, Bill. Clearly as the consideration of brand impacts begins to evolve from traditional exposure (via advertising, packaging, and direct mail) to include new areas of purposeful brand integration and the social media expression, Millward Brown’s thoughtful approach is highly valuable. Couple that with Rentrak’s massive and passive 31 million return path linear TV footprint, census measurement of over 117 million VOD-enabled TV’s, and our worldwide 36-country movie box office service and together we can provide a unique and powerful way to measure branding moments in media content.

Happy Holidays to all!


Want to learn more about Rentrak’s Branded Entertainment measurement service? Watch the video below!

Measuring Branded Entertainment - Rentrak


One thought on “Rentrak and Millward Brown Look at the Value of Branded Entertainment

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