Working Brands Into Web Videos

Feb 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Nearly every American has seen the red Coke cups on “American Idol.” Now, Web video networks are similarly taking advantage of product placement as a means to generate revenue with the scads of videos they distribute across the Web. Individual creators have been doing the same.
Brand integration is more expensive than a traditional ad buy, so these deals give online TV networks like Revision3, Next New Networks and For Your Imagination more bang for the buck as they seek out marketers to back their shows.
Online video is on a fast track for growth, both in dollars and views. Ad revenue should jump from $1.4 billion this year to $4.3 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer. That growth will come in part from product integration dollars flowing into the medium.
The money is following the eyeballs. In December, Internet users watched more than 10 billion videos online, up 34% from January 2007, comScore said.
Brand integration is desirable because weaving a product or service into the content of a show guarantees the ad won’t be skipped. The message then lives with the content as the video travels virally around the Web. Also, consumers aren’t terribly fond of the pre-roll ads, usually 15 seconds long, that run before a video, so a branded buy is often more palatable to viewers, experts say.
Take the online TV studio For Your Imagination. The New York-based production house sold a brand-integration deal to Graco for its show “DadLabs,” which earned 240,000 views in January. Under the deal, the four-times-a-week show on parenting incorporated Graco products into the content for a full week in late January. That enabled For Your Imagination to secure a CPM close to $60, said Paul Kontonis, CEO of For Your Imagination. He estimates Graco generated 60,000 impressions for the week.
That compares to a $50 CPM on average for a sponsorship deal in which a host says “brought to you by” and a $20 CPM for a pre-roll or banner ad. “You get much better effect out of it,” Mr. Kontonis said.
The themed week generated more viewer comments than usual. “When you get the community interaction, it’s worth the money for an advertiser. It’s more brand awareness and getting visibility in front of the potential customer,” he said.
That’s why marketers are eager to find brand integration opportunities, and the Web has proven to be a good place for them. Most Internet TV networks are nimble and can move quickly to structure these deals. For instance, when a host of Revision3’s popular Web show “Diggnation” casually mentioned that he liked loose-leaf tea from Adagio on air, the tea maker saw a spike in sales.
So Revision3 and Adagio began to work together officially. Adagio created a gift set of “Diggnation”-branded tea tins, featuring the hosts on the packaging. During three episodes of “Diggnation,” the hosts drank Adagio tea and discussed the gift sets. Adagio said it garnered $100,000 worth of sales—a 25% increase—directly linked to the “Diggnation” sponsorship, according to Adagio co-founder Michael Cramer, in a statement on Revision3’s Web site.
“For us, it’s the dominant ad format right now,” said Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3. “With all the clutter out there, when a host mentions a product it’s very effective.”
High Sponsor Recall
In fact, Revision3 commissioned a study late last year on ad recall and found that 100% of its viewers across its shows could name at least one sponsor, while 91% could name two or more. Also, more than 40% of viewers have purchased a product from a sponsor. “That’s huge intent, huge action,” Mr. Louderback said.
Revision3 is exploring additional ad formats such as lower-thirds and overlays, but will continue to rely on brand integration as well. Earlier this year, Revision3 incorporated Carson’s Ribs, Beck’s Beer and Body by Venus into a Super Bowl dream sequence on “Diggnation” as another example of product placement.
Internet TV network Next New Networks has pursued branded buys in recent months with movie studios, said Herb Scannell, the company’s CEO.
In a recent episode of the movie-centric show “Indy Mogul,” host Eric Beck showed viewers how to re-create the barber chair from the Warner Bros. movie “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” directed by Tim Burton.
That fit into the show’s theme, since Mr. Beck regularly teaches audiences how to design their own do-it-yourself special effects. He introduced the segment by saying the show was sponsored by the film and he was “challenged to re-create the barber chair.”
“Honesty is the best policy whenever possible,” Mr. Scannell said.
Other Next New Networks shows have woven marketers into the content. “FastLaneDaily” included footage of the new Spyker car featured in the Jet Li movie “War” last year.
CPMs are considerably higher with branded buys, Mr. Scannell said, though he declined to disclose costs. “People are looking for things to do differently than has been done in television. You don’t want to create the same clutter you have in TV, with pods of four to five minutes of commercials,” Mr. Scannell said.
He said Next New Networks’ shows that have included branded integration have fared well, generating 250,000 to 500,000 views per individual episode. The views are high because the company has been successful in having these single episodes featured on at least one of its major distribution partners, which drives up views.
Local advertisers are experimenting with brand integration as well. Alex Michaels, a Cleveland-based Internet TV creator, sold local product integration deals for his sci-fi Web series “Out of Darkness.” The series ran last year on YouTube and Prelude2cinema.com, generating more than 100,000 views. Advertisers included a local baker, a nightclub and an Italian restaurant. Those deals helped finance the production, he said.
The key to a successful brand integration is that it rings true for the audience. “It has to be something that makes sense. You have to respect the viewer and let them know, and say we are sponsored by so-and-so,” Mr. Kontonis said.
Mr. Louderback agrees. Revision3’s audience is already tech and media savvy, so transparency is key. “You have to be really upfront about this, that the shows are free media, and we have sponsors and want you to support them,” he said.


  1. Branded video marketing, content branded media, product placement or sponsored web video. Are the chosen formats that both tv and companies are opting for.
    As mentioned earlier in this posting “When you get the community interaction, it’s worth the money for an advertiser. It’s more brand awareness and getting visibility in front of the potential customer,”.
    The benefit of a global audience, allowing for foreign reach and purchasing of products or services at a much lower entry cost for many is irresistible.
    But companies need to do their research, plan and work with the companies that have the viral expertise as well and the web2.0 video marketing and production skills. Yes it is easy to place something on Youtube, but it doesn’t guarantee people will bother to watch it.

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