How fast should you name drop in branded content?

Pressboard research suggests there's an art to knowing when to acknowledge the brand behind your branded content.

There seems to be an art to knowing when to mention the brand behind a piece of content, according to a new study from Pressboard, the Vancouver-based custom content platform, that examined how placement and frequency of brand mentions can affect user engagement.

The goal of the study, said Pressboard, was to inform advertisers and agencies on how to negotiate campaigns and deals with influencers and plan better content.

The study observed more than 300 pieces of Canadian sponsored content (primarily blogs and articles) measuring active reading time (different from Google’s “time on page” metric, which analyzes how long users are actually engaged in the written content and not simply on the page) and scrolling behaviour – what percentage users scrolled through before leaving.

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The study looked at where a sponsoring brand is first mentioned in content and how that affects engagement. For branded articles, when a brand is mentioned within the first 100 words, readers spent an average of 56.2 seconds reading the article. The further in it was mentioned, the more time was spent reading. Read time peaked at 68.1 seconds when the first mention came at 300 to 599 words.

Pressboard narrowed down the first-mention “sweet spot” to between 300 and 600 words after seeing seeing read time decline to 66.3 seconds when brand mentions occurred between 600 and 750 words.

The study’s findings also suggest that the frequency of brand mentions can affect readers’ interest. Articles that only mentioned the brand sponsor’s name once were read for an average of 69.6 seconds. As more mentions were added, the average reading time fell significantly.

For example, when the brand was mentioned between five and 15 times, reading time was 55.5 seconds, a 20% drop. Scroll rate also went down to 74%.

Articles with no brand placement performed comparatively well (an average of 63.5 seconds and a scroll rate of 78%) but didn’t outpace content with one brand mention (69.6 seconds and 80% scroll rate). The report’s authors concluded that “a thoughtfully placed brand mention can actually engage readers and encourage them to read more of the content.”

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