The total amount of spending on branded content reached more than $1.9 million per company in 2011—an all-time high, according to a study conducted by the Custom Content Council and the branded content newsletter ContentWise.

Branded content accounted for 26 percent of overall marketing spend for responding companies, which included Allstate Insurance, Sports Authority, the University of Maryland, and others across industries (about 200 companies responded). Thirty percent of respondents felt their branded content budgets would rise again in 2012.

According to the study, 72 percent of marketers think branded content is more effective than magazine advertising, compared to 62 percent who see it as more effective than advertising on television. Sixty-nine percent value it above both direct mail and public relations.

About 50 percent of respondents use external agencies for some aspect of their branded content initiatives, with print leading the way at 51 percent of it outsourced. Thirty-one percent of electronic branded content was cited as outsourced.

“This spending study caps a year of cautious, but steady growth in the custom content market,” said Lori Rosen, executive director of the Custom Content Council. “There is no question that branded content has emerged as a leading driver for marketers of all sizes.”

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