Unsurprisingly, the conclusion seems to be that the less 'in your face' the approach (from a branding point of view) the more likely consumers are to continue to watch the whole piece. In other words, the LESS it looks like an advert, the more people are likely to want to continue to watch it!
Interestingly - and good news for brands - is that fact that downplaying the branding in the advert not only increases the viewing time, but in actual fact DID NOT adversely affect brand recall. In other words, despite the fact that the piece was less obviously 'pushy' in terms of forcing a branding message, viewers still recognised the brand element and were just as likely to be able to recall it afterwards as those seeing a more overtly branded piece.
This is also great news for those of us, like myself, in the business of attempting to get brands and advertisers to better understand and buy into the subtleties of marketing in these new channels. The fear is of course that we could produce lots of 'nice' shareable, fun content - 'but what about the brand??'
Well, there you go. You can now relax because Google have proved that it's possible to do both. In fact, it's not just possible - it's demonstrably MORE effective to allow the brand to take a back seat to the 'content'.
Of course, if we remove our 'marketing' hat for two minutes and try to think like a normal human being, we instinctively know that this is self evident. No one wants to be 'sold' to. But we all love to watch things that entertain, educate and inspire us in some way. Providing the quality of content is good enough, we are in fact reasonably happy, possibly even pleased to allow a brand to do a little flag waving as a reward for bringing us such great stuff. Nice film about extreme skiing, RedBull, thanks! Hey, these people are REALLY into the same things that I am into! Maybe I should think about buying their stuff!
Obvious really, isn't it?