Could two Harvard Business School students plus two major feature producers be the ones to figure out online video product placement? That’s the recipe for the founding team at Tadcast, a small startup that’s seen success in its early efforts.
Like competitors Zadby, Poptent and Hitviews, Tadcast is aiming to build a cast of online video stars and offer them deals to feature products in their videos. However, the company has not yet built out a marketplace, but rather arranges deals on a case-by-case basis.
So far, Tadcast’s product placement is quite casual — in more than one case, the video producer just goes about his business entertaining and informing his audience while wearing a T-shirt that prominently displays the brand’s name. Integration is subtle and unacknowledged; this isn’t nine YouTube stars posting about their love for Carl’s Jr. on the exact same day. Really, it’s more like brand association.
Brands pay a CPM, with no upfront costs. Sample pricing from the company’s site describes a “$50,000 budget and 2 cents per video engagement, your budgeted engagements are 2,500,000.” If a video gets more views than budgeted, there’s no extra charge. Producers get a budget cap, retain rights to their video, and in most deals have full creative control.
Tadcast is lead by David Parker and Payam Shodjai, who met at Harvard Business School, where they just graduated last week. Parker, a filmmaker himself, was able to pull in Nancy Tenenbaum (Meet The Parents, Meet the Fokkers) after she’d shown interest in a movie he made. She brought along Guy Riedel (Cloverfield, Wedding Crashers), who are planning to create web series of their own for Tadcast and advise its talent corps in exchange for exclusive product placement rights. “Nancy’s and my goals are to help online video producers make money from their work, which will allow them to invest more into production and ultimately create better quality online content,” said Riedel via email. “We want to be catalysts of that transformation.” Of course, Riedel is busy working on a new film called Morning Glory with Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams, but he chips in when he can.
Though Tadcast has to be frustratingly quiet about some of its deals (for instance the inclusion of an unspecified brand in the excellent “Twitter in Real Life” video by CollegeHumor — c’mon, who wouldn’t want to fess up to paying to be associated in that?), they let us know about a campaign this week that was especially successful. YouTube star Ryan Higa (aka nigahiga) made one of his usual sarcastic parodies (this time about the unoriginality of Korean dramas), all the while wearing a shirt for apparel company Weatherproof. Posted Monday, it was the most-viewed, most-discussed and most-favorited video on YouTube Wednesday, and has just under 1 million views today. That had nothing to do with the brand — Higa is the No. 2 YouTube producer of of all time — but the brand loved it.