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Just a little over a year ago, Honeyshed launched its beta site, promising to blend the merchandise-moving capabilities of QVC with the video stylings of MTV. We weren’t fans of it then (to put it mildly), but with the site officially out of beta as of last week and a year’s worth of experience under its belt, have things gotten any better?
In a word: no.
As AdAge pointed out rather eloquently, the problem is that Honeyshed just tries SO hard to be hip and winds up failing miserably. Honeyshed is built on the idea that people know they are being marketed to, so why not make the proposition transparent? Wear the fact that you are shilling products on your sleeve and try to wrap that mercantile message in entertaining and goofy skitz that the kidz will like.
The problem with Honeyshed is encapsulated within a video segment trying to sell you a fog machine (!). One of the video’s hosts, “Pok Boogey,” proclaims, “You walk into a party, you bring a fog machine, you’re the sh-t.” Does anyone actually believe that?
Honeyshed has put itself in an awkward conundrum. It believes it has more integrity and appeal to jaded youth because it’s so up-front about its commercial ambitions. But that authenticity is immediately lost when a group of goofy people talk about how you need a fog machine.
I spoke with Honeyshed CEO Stephen Greifer who admitted the site had some issues finding traction this past year. “We never really generated much audience,” he said. Though he wouldn’t provide any stats, Greifer “wouldn’t object” to the metrics listed in a recent AdWeek article that said Honeyshed never drew more than 7,000 visitors a month.
Despite the setbacks, Greifer is a big believer in Honeyshed’s future. He told us the company now has 150 brand marketers and has filmed more than 400 content segments devoted to hawking products in categories like fashion, beauty, and gadgets.
Greifer said Honeyshed will make money by charging companies the production cost to make a video segment, as well as through sponsorships and a CPM+ model whereby advertisers pay based on a yet-to-be defined level of engagement with the ad (for example, higher rates if a viewer watches the video all the way through). So far Puma is the biggest brand name paying to be on the site (there is a Volvo spot, but the car company didn’t pay for it).
While still a separate entity, Honeyshed is still financially supported and solely funded by giganto ad agency network Publicis. Honeyshed isn’t profitable yet and Greifer didn’t have a deadline by which the site needed to become successful. “We need to see what the trajectory is around how we’re able to build audience,” he said. “To put an exact time frame on that is difficult.”