Branded content is king
“Our audience wants to see themselves in what they see onscreen, not just the stars and better representation in ads—that should be baseline,” said Dan Riess, executive VP and chief growth officer at TelevisaUnvision. “What is the difference-maker for lots of brands is that [Hispanic audiences] see themselves, they see their contributions to America, they see the positive force that they’re bringing to bear and that’s something that I don't think as many brands have thought of that is really what makes the biggest difference. So, [branded social partnerships] are discussed in the upfront—not entirely, but many of those deals are done because they’re done alongside the partnership with a tentpole.”
TelevisaUnivision’s branded content business—which includes everything from bespoke social campaigns to highly produced documentaries and series via its Así Studios launched in spring 2022—has brought in over $100 million, the company told Ad Age, adding that it’s grown over 30% year over year. Over the past year, 17 brands including T-Mobile, State Farm and Expedia have partnered with TelevisaUnivision to make influencer campaigns, tapping 30 Hispanic influencers curated by the media company’s “in-culture team of experts.”
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TelevisaUnivision does not profit from content created by influencers or distributed via the creators’ owned channels, according to the company. Rather, those costs are passed directly from brand to creator.
Five years ago, “the upfront marketplace was, ‘We’ll take the money in, we’ll work on the price and the volume and we’ll list out the things that you might want to do as an advertiser. We'll figure the rest out later,’” said Riess. “Now, [dealmaking] is pretty specific about the all-encompassing nature of these deals, what platforms, what partnerships, what data usage—all of that is getting worked out in the upfront timeframe. It allows for real innovation, and in a couple of weeks you move the industry forward faster.”
In preparation for upfront negotiations, one media buyer told Ad Age that advertisers are looking for ways to increase the value of their spend this year as client budgets have tightened and spending is done over time rather than committed all at once. This year, the buyer’s clients are focused on “what we get outside of the pod—the integrations, the sponsorships, the value buys.”
And branded content has been a recurring theme throughout upfront pushes from media companies including Disney, AMC Networks and Roku, as well as brands creating content themselves in greater numbers.