Channel 4 has a strong heritage in reaching young audiences through our linear and VOD broadcast platforms. That heritage is built upon our unique understanding of exactly how content resonates with youth audiences, and through the carefully honed skills of the experts in our content commissioning teams.
Our platforms have huge reach through traditional viewing routes – and their scale is often talked down by our digital-native competitors. But, at Channel 4 we’re always seeking to innovate, introducing new products, platforms and finding new ways to reach our audiences with the content they love.
So, in June 2020 we invested heavily in a new idea and launched 4Studio – a major new division within Channel 4 tasked with creating content specifically for our audiences across social media. The formation of this new division included specialists from around the organisation comprising strategy, project management, social media management, digital commissioning and, of course, sales.
Just as the move to create bespoke social-first content was a new step for our commissioning teams, the move into creating social branded content was a new venture for our sales department. We’re the UK’s first broadcaster to enter the social branded entertainment market and it pitched us firmly against new well-established rivals including LADbible Group, Jungle Creations and Joe Media.
We’ve built this new team from the ground up, attracting new specialist talent into the organisation and integrating the specialists into the main sales team structure, to give us maximum efficiency and ultimate reach into the advertising landscape.
To make a success of the new venture, our team had to hit the ground running. We drew upon our creative know-how to produce a branded content slate of over 50 commissioned social formats to take to market – all of which were underpinned by C4’s social branded content values;
- Appealing to youth audiences
- Provide and champion alternative views
- Are bold, daring, interesting and subversive
- Reflect modern society
- Are entertaining and/or purpose driven
- High quality and premium video content
Our approach is that we seek to work with brands in one of two ways – firstly by responding to advertiser briefs with bespoke content ideas, and secondly by proactively developing branded content formats from the slate with brands in mind.
Everything we produce is created collaboratively between our commercial and editorial teams and the brand themselves, to ensure maximum quality and effectiveness of the end content. One of our unique selling points in the market is that our commissioning team are involved in every brief response, every idea, every brainstorm and creative session. Such is our commitment to high quality, nothing is proposed unless commissioning are happy with it.
We created five distinct social products to offer to advertisers;
- Social Branded Entertainments
- Social Sponsorships
- Social Spin-Offs
- Social Extensions of Linear
- Linear Ads from social branded content productions
The market was hugely receptive to all these different products - in fact we managed to deliver on all of them within the first six months of operation, providing fantastic market endorsement of our approach and providing us with some fantastic case studies to help push those products again next year.
Our first campaign was for Visit Britain, called Mission: Accessible. The series followed disabled comedian Rosie Jones exploring the best tourist sites the UK had to offer and aimed to raise the profile of accessible travel and bring it to the forefront of conversation. It couldn't have been any more ‘on-remit’ for Channel 4 if we tried, but also delivered exactly against client objectives. The series drove almost 11 million views, generating over 100,000 engagements (which were overwhelmingly positive).
Subsequent months have seen standout campaigns for brands including Public Health England, The Body Shop, Vodafone, NHS Blood & Transplant and Wrigleys. Each campaign is creatively distinct, but unified by a common commitment to quality – and all have seen incredible results both in number of views but also in campaign effectiveness – proven by our dedicated research function behind every piece of content.
In fact, the success of our new 4Studio branded content team is such that despite being barely 9 months old, we’ve already delivered over 15 different campaigns and amassed over 29 million views for our campaigns on Channel 4 across Facebook and Instagram alone – that’s more than any of the more-established UK publishers, including LADbible, UNILAD and Joe Media!
Adam Middleton MAD//FEST
Last week Adam Middleton, 4Studio's Creative Strategist, spoke at the no-nonsense fast paced Marketing, Media, and Technology themed MAD // FEST.