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Facebook set to foster popularity of branded content

Branded content was already becoming more attractive to many marketers and publishers trying to navigate the shoals of the online media ecosystem. Now, thanks to Facebook, it’s set to really take off. I think this sector will grow quickly, and in some interesting new directions.

At its annual conference, Facebook said it would allow publishers to include branded content in their Instant Articles posts, using a new tag and ad unit as part of broader efforts to encourage more high-quality content of all kinds, especially live video.

The changes provide a path for publishers to both tap the huge Facebook audience and, for the first time, make money doing it.

Done right, branded content can be hugely popular, especially when it leverages big brands alongside big TV personalities in smart and customized ways. Late-night shows have done a good job repurposing bits of their programs for sharing on YouTube and beyond, and that will continue.

But I think the next step for brands and smart humor shops such as the late-night shows will be to create more original content. Soon enough, at least some of these creative TV talents will begin working with brands to create entertaining programming that doesn’t have to run on their traditional TV show to have an impact.

Spanish-language Azteca is one example of a network building creative teams for branded content and exploring with brands the potential for such programming.

They’re not the only ones, either. Conan O’Brien had a huge online hit with his  “Clueless Gamer” video segment in February.

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