• Team contentFX

What is branded content?

The Content Marketing Institute defines branded content as a:

“sponsored or paid partnership between the brand and the media, that encourages audiences to engage with the brand based on its entertainment, information, and/or educational value.”

This same article gives separate definitions for native advertising and content marketing, based on the extent to which the brand and content is integrated, and the method of distribution for the content.


A similar approach was taken by the IAB, which developed a Branded Content Creation & Distribution Definitions Framework, as a way to better define the different forms:

  • Brand-owned content;

  • Publisher-hosted and/or made branded sponsored content; and

  • Branded content distribution (aka native advertising).


While much of the recent attention for branded content is on digital channels, other experts have tried to include non-digital mediums and focus on the way the content/brand is consumed. For example, an article in the Journal of Advertising Research suggests that in branded content the “audience actively is engaged with a non-interruptive content experience that also aligns very closely with a brand, which either is funding the content creation directly or is paying for the placement”.


This article also outlines common types of branded content across all major media channels, including:


  • Sponsored content: articles or other formats that are paid editorial or offer relevant branding adjacency (e.g. sponsored articles on news website).

  • Native advertising: paid advertising that resembles a unit of editorial/organic content (e.g. promoted Tweets or Instagram posts; sponsored article listing within a list of other articles).

  • Product/brand integrations: Products or brands that have been purposefully placed or integrated into a story line or narrative (e.g. use of a specific car brand within a sitcom).

  • Sports and event sponsorship: Use of the brand in the form of logo exposure, graphics, media billboards, brand mentions and/or sponsorship of content segments (e.g. American Express halftime shows for NBA games sponsorship).


In creating contentFX, we broadly measure branded content in all its forms, including those some might classify as advertising, or beyond their narrow definition. It is our view that marketers, media owners and content creators must be able to compare and contrast performance of all marketing efforts using common, meaningful metrics.


In our next article, we look to understand how we measure branded content, and what metrics are important.

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