June 24, 2016

There are two big marketing conferences going on right now. One is The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France. It is the largest gathering of advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators and marketers in the world. The other one is the 7 Annual VidCon in Anaheim, California. More than 25,000 fans, creators, and industry leaders are attending this celebration of online video.

Both events are not very relevant to small business marketing, except for providing a glimpse of where the major firms (national brands, giant retailers, video producers) see as the future of online video. Here’s the bottom line: forget about banner ads, native ads, video ads, or simply placing short videos online. The big time advertisers are placing their bets on branded content.

Branded content is simply video content that promotes a brand and is paid for by the brand. Put your Mad Men TV Show hat on and think of it like the early days of TV when ad agencies created programs that featured their client’s name in the title and product in the show. Big time advertisers are also thrilled with the potential of virtual reality (VR).

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, media companies at Cannes were eager to pitch marketers on the potential for branded virtual reality (VR). Publisher Gannett and Verizon’s AOL were both showcasing VR production capabilities. Gannett demonstrated a “cubemercial,” a new ad unit that effectively places a viewer inside a virtual-reality room surrounded by, say, a retailer’s products and videos on all six sides of the cube. Of course even Google, which has promoting its VR content on YouTube, acknowledges that consumer acceptance of virtual reality is a long way out.

Over in Anaheim, all the major social media folks are here: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram. They all are eager to show how you can have branded video content on their social media channels. For example, Google owned YouTube has ordered its first branded scripted drama, “Step Up,” which is based on the dance-themed box office hits from Lionsgate, reports the New York Times. The show, which will be part of the YouTube Red subscription service, sends a clear message that YouTube wants their product to compete in the same branded universe as Netflix and Amazon.

In future posts I will be sharing news from these events and ways even small businesses can play in this branded content world.


  1. Hey Mark….. as usual, great article. Very relevant. In Cape Town. Leaving for Cairo on Sunday. Having a ball

  2. Thanks, your blog is far more fun to read! Wow, what a cool trip. Glad you are having a ball. How could you not?

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