How to Successfully Integrate Brands With Streaming Entertainment
Integrating brands with entertainment properties is more common online than in broadcast television, but that doesn't mean viewers will put up with just anything. For Danny Fishman, a partner at Believe Entertainment Group, having a successful product means putting the talent first.
"I don't look at us as being in the branded content business, or the branded entertainment business as much as I look as us in the entertainment business," Fishman said, speaking at the recent Streaming Media West conference. "What I mean by that is our order of operation isn't start with a brand and build something for them. Our order of operation is start with talent, start with an audience, start with a story that we want delivered to that. Build that, set up the distribution and then go to brands but still offer them integration opportunities into the shows. Some of that sounds like semantics but it really is a major fundamental difference."
The audience can tell when a brand is inserted organically into a production and when it's being forced, and they'll tune out if the product doesn't feel trustworthy.
"The viewers absolutely know the difference, but it's also not lying to the viewers either," Fishman explained. "It's being authentic with them. They also know that they're getting content for free, so giving them the content for free but in a more permissive basis with integrating the brands in a more respectful way."
For the full interview, watch the video below.
Troy: Hi, everyone. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from the red carpet at Streaming Media West in sunny Huntington Beach, California. I'm talking with some our esteemed guests here, doing some one-on-one interviews. I'm very pleased to be joined right now by Danny Fishman. He's a partner in Believe Entertainment Group. He's speaking at a YouTube panel later today. Danny, tell me a little bit about what Believe Entertainment Group is.
Danny: Yes. Believe is a studio for original programming and for digital platforms. We are a company that we develop, we finance, we produce, we market and distribute and we integrate brands into all different types of shows, everything from an animated series. We do a Lebron James called The Lebrons who lives on Xbox and YouTube to a guy's knowledge game show that we do with Jay Mohr called Money Where Your Mouth Is, that lives on Hulu.
We leverage YouTube, Hulu, Xbox, AOL, Meredith, all different, sort of, new medium platforms depending on the nature of the content and the programming, and then for the brands involved.
Troy: Nice. YouTube is a significant distribution channel for you, right?
Danny: Yes, absolutely.
Troy: What kinds of things do you do for YouTube? What do you target to YouTube?
Danny: Specifically, we like to leverage YouTube with the programs and with the talent that really has a built in audience there. As an example, we've a project called In the Booth, which is a docu-reality series that we do with Tiesto. In the Booth is a program that we've been doing for a number of years now. Tietso has a very significant following and channel within YouTube, so as opposed to trying to take that show and build and audience elsewhere, we chose to deliver it where his current audience exists.
Troy: What works on YouTube that doesn't work in other places?
Danny: It's funny. I mean, for us, it's not necessarily a matter of what works on YouTube might not work elsewhere as much as, sort of, taking advantage of specific assets that already exist on YouTube based on a fan base that already exists. For us, it's more about going to where the current fan base exists versus trying to bring them elsewhere.
When we're leveraging, The Lebrons is another one of our shows that lives concurrently on Xbox and on YouTube. The reason again, Lebron already has such a significant presence there, such a significant following and channel, it makes sense to tap into that versus trying to just say, "All right. He's got a big social media base, pull it elsewhere." Go to where that social media base or that audience already exists.
Troy: What are the business opportunities within YouTube, a giant video ecosystem?
Danny: I mean, it's funny, as a company our model has always been seizing the platform that makes the most sense. What we're starting to see more and more is, our model's again been more about established, high-level talent that's been in the business for a long time of whether it be storytelling or consistently providing entertainment, other, sort of, messaging and the like and who are professionals in the business.
YouTube obviously, has been a great platform for a lot of amateurs to become professionals within that world and what we're now starting to do is look at those ones that have risen to, sort of, a certain level that we can tap into versus trying to go and mind and develop specifically. We look at the ones that are already established and that's why we've started with talent that's high-level outside of YouTube and starting to tap into that world.
Troy: What kind of numbers make a significant YouTube hit for you?
Danny: From a number of subscriber stand point in the couple of million. Subscribers from an overall viewership stand point, in the tens of millions of use.
Troy: That's a big hit for anybody.
Danny: Yeah. Again, it's finding those that already have audiences that we can tap into. I hate to say it, we get to cheat a lot off of that, as opposed to trying to go and build an audience from scratch. There's a lot of people that have put a lot of hard work in to building their audiences and then we're able to capitalize on that.
Troy: You're starting the race very close to the finish line.
Danny: 100 percent, although there's still quite a way to go.
Troy: What are the best ways to monetize that content? Once you've got great content, how do you make money on YouTube?
Danny: The way that we do it is, and this isn't endemic or unique to YouTube as much as, we'll take whatever platform that we're using, whether it be YouTube, or Hulu, or anyone else, we'll put together a media package surrounding the content and in turn sell to brands on a CPM media basis.
What we'll do is bake part of the production into that CPM, into that media and in turn sell the brands on an existing CPM media basis. We're never going to a brand and saying, "Here, you're going to buy this production." We're going to a brand and saying, "Here, you're going to buy a media package." The same way that they would do in television or any other digital media for that matter.
Troy: Is it important to get the brand into the content, to create branded content?
Danny: Yes, and it depends on the nature of the program. It's funny, I don't look at us as being in the branded content business, or the branded entertainment business as much as I look as us in the entertainment business. What I mean by that is, our order of operation isn't start with a brand and build something for them. Our order of operation is start with talent. Start with an audience. Start with a story that we want delivered to that. Build that, set up the distribution and then go to brands but still offer them integration opportunities into the shows.
Some of that sounds like semantics but it really is a major fundamental difference when it comes down to it but then still offering integrations into the programs. We've gone as far as writing characters into the The Lebrons for some of the sponsors to do some really cool stuff for 7 Up. In the Booth Project we're doing with Tiesto, doing a whole bubble up campaign within where Tiesto's mentoring young deejays and like and rise up, bubble up to go with the 7 Up message within that.
No just littering it with a bunch of products as much as finding something along with the story that we're trying to tell that goes along with that. Just a better ride for the product. There is a good business in branded entertainment but we found that you have to force feed that. When we're in the business of, sort of, developing shows, being in story telling, developing stuff that audiences want to watch, that puts us in a position where we actually can engage people to come and invite them to watch it versus having to force it upon them.
Satisfying the brand angles in the brand goals and looking at every brand, every show and platform differently and also every brand brief and, sort of, integration differently. We're not just saying, all right. Here's an opportunity. Here's a show opportunity. Here is the insert brand opportunity. Here is as much as analyzing the brief, really finding out what their KPIs are. What they're looking to do and in turn, finding creative ways with an existing IP, with an existing platforms to take advantage of that.
Troy: The viewers know the difference.
Danny: The viewers, absolutely know the difference, but it's also not lying to the viewers either. It's being authentic with them. They also know that they're getting content for free, so giving them the content for free but in a more permissive basis with integrating the brands in a more respectful way. Then even using the talent as surrounding advertising components. Having the talent let you know that show is brought to you by so and so brand and then in turn, it gives greater permission for that brand to be involved in the content of it.
Troy: Terrific. That sounds great. Danny, thank you so much for joining me here on the red carpet. I really appreciate it.
Danny: And you.
Troy: This is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media West.