Guided by reality TV producer Mark Burnett, Vimby works with brands to make videos they hope people want to see.
(Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times /October 28, 2011)
Burnett isn’t the first television producer whom brands have sought out to create high-quality, low-cost entertainment for the Web and beyond. Several other veterans from the traditional media world, including former top network executives such as ABC’s Lloyd Braun, NBC‘s Ben Silverman and the WB’s Jordan Levin and independent producers like Jak Severson, also are looking to capture audiences as they move to these digital platforms. Big brands are tagging along, in hopes that such proven players can find their footing online.
A significant portion of the U.S. population goes online to check out YouTube videos, update their Facebook status or watch music videos and TV shows through services including Vevo and Hulu. Some 182 million Internet users spent an average of five hours a week on the Web in September and watched nearly 40 billion videos, according to ComScore Inc.
Advertisers predictably are following the viewers online, with spending projected to reach $31.3 billion this year in the U.S. — an increase of 20% over 2010, researcher EMarketer predicts.
As new gadgets and services deliver entertainment to young, digitally savvy viewers, advertisers are scrambling to respond. Initially, brands took a direct marketing approach, focusing on buying search terms to spur sales of particular products. Although search advertising remains the single largest segment of spending on the Web, its growth has slowed as brands look for new ways to connect with consumers.
“Brands are starting to think more about, ‘How do we become the destination?'” said Jason Deal, digital director at the Initiative ad agency. “How do we create advertising that draws consumers to us, instead of solely interrupting people” through banners and search ads?
The breadth of online experimentation is wide, from traditional sponsorships and product placements to “branded content” — in which advertisers use entertainment to communicate with audiences in an original way.
Hyundai, for example, attracted attention to its sporty Veloster subcompact car by sponsoring a mash-up, in which five prominent DJs reinterpreted the traditional musical genres of classical, country, R&B, jazz and rock. The resulting documentary is promoted on Hyundai’s YouTube channel as well as a series of live events.
“The marketing leadership at Hyundai had the mind-set that we have to become the content that consumers are looking for, not just a disruption,” Deal said.
Severson, CEO of Thoughtful Media Group Inc., a digital studio, is seeking to emulate a formula that has succeeded for YouTube celebrities such as stand-up comedian Shay Carl, who has attracted more than 1 million regular followers (self-described ShayTards) and logged more than 14 million views since he began posting videos.
“Their level of effectiveness in driving continual, sustained, religiously devoted audiences — there is nothing in the world like it,” Severson said.
Severson is using actors and professional writers to construct his own YouTube personalities, in hopes of building a sizable enough audience to interest advertisers. One character, Monty, a middle-aged man who lives in his grandmother’s basement, delivers product reviews that comically veer into unrelated topics — such as his infatuation with actress Christina Ricci. So far Monty’s YouTube show, “What’s What,” doesn’t rank among YouTube’s most popular: It has about 7,900 subscribers.
“It doesn’t happen on Day 1,” Severson said.
One of the most enduring forms of advertising — paid product placements — already has taken root on digital platforms. The practice dates back to Charles Dickens, whose novel “The Pickwick Papers” draws its title from the carriage line from the author’s time, according to Patrick Quinn, president of PQ Media, a research firm.
Now a film and television staple, paid product placements are expected to reach $55 million online this year, Quinn said.
Read the full story from the LA times here.