More than three-quarters of US corporate marketers say they are aggressively (16%) or moderately (62%) shifting spending from traditional marketing to branded-content* marketing, according to a study by the Custom Content Council (CCC) in partnership with ContentWise.

In addition, the annual study, based on a survey of 100 US corporate marketers, found that total spending on branded content rebounded in 2011, to its highest level ever: $1,913,609 per company on average, among those surveyed.

Below, additional findings from the report titled "Spending Study: A Look at How Corporate America Invests in Branded Content," by the CCC and ContentWise.

Among other spending-related findings:   

  • The biggest driver of branded-content growth from 2010 to 2011 was publications budgets, up 68% year over year (YOY). 
  • Branded content accounted for 26% of overall marketing, advertising and communications budgets in 2011 on average, down from 29% in 2010 (likely a result of large increases in overall 2011 marketing budgets, the study notes).
  • 30% of corporate marketers expect their branded-content budgets to increase again in 2012.
  • Marketers are most bullish on digital content: Spending in the category is expected to increase 39% over 2011 levels; the smallest growth is expected in print (up 16% YOY).  

Top Content Marketing Goals: Educate and Retain Customers

The top-ranked reason marketers use branded content is to educate their customers (49%), followed by customer retention (26%) and enhancing brand loyalty (14%). Similar goals were cited in 2010, with customer education ranked first (52%), followed by customer retention (23%) and brand loyalty (12%). 

Up-selling to customers (5%) is ranked as a low priority, reinforcing the idea that marketers view branded-content initiatives as long-term investments rather than transactional ones.

Relative Effectiveness

Among corporate marketers, branded-content initiatives are considered more effective than other leading forms of advertising and marketing:  

  • 69% say branded content is more effective than public relations, compared with 63% who said so a year earlier.
  • 69% say branded content is more effective than direct mail, and 72% say it's more effective that magazine ads.


One-half (50%) of corporate marketers say they outsource at least some aspect of branded-content initiatives to external agencies (such as custom publishers, PR/marketing firms, design firms, video production companies, and interactive agencies).

In 2011, outsourcing was more prevalent among print forms (51%) of branded content, than it was among electronic (31%) or other forms (35%).

Other budget-related findings:  

  • Spending on personnel accounts for the largest share of branded-content budgets (54%), followed by production (30%) and distribution (16%) spending. 
  • In the digital content category, personnel spending accounts for 61% of the total budget, followed by production/programming (25%) and distribution (14%).
*For the survey, branded content (AKA custom media, custom content, and custom publishing) is defined as the creation and distribution of educational and or/compelling content in multiple formats to attract, educate, up-sell, and/or retain customers. 

About the report: The research was conducted via online and mailed methods targeting a random sample of companies across all industries. More than five thousand invitations were distributed and roughly 100 surveys were completed in the fourth quarter of 2011. Among the responding companies were: Allstate Insurance, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cephalon, Graybar, ICF International, Sports Authority, State Farm Insurance, and the University of Maryland.

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