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Want to Get Your Web Series Sponsored? 10 Things to Think About

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If the notion that all you had to do was create a web series and advertisers would come ever truly existed, it’s all but dead now. Getting a sponsorship deal for your series takes almost as much work as creating the series itself. During a panel at the recent LA TV Fest, a gathering of advertisers and marketers came together to discuss what online video creators need to keep in mind if they ever want to get some of that sweet sponsorship money.

The panelists were Sara Morton, Group Director of Strategy, Nissan and Infiniti, OMD; Douglas Scott, President, OgilvyEntertainment; Sarah Baehr, VP and National Media Lead, Razorfish; Steven Amato, Partner, Omelet; Michael Hayes, EVP, Managing Director, Digital – North America at Initiative. The good news is that, when it comes content creation, brands have more freedom than ever. The less-than-good news is that there is more competition than ever and if creators want a leg up, they have to start thinking about brand integration before footage is shot. Here are 10 takeaways from that discussion:

  1. Think like a marketer. If you want your content to be used as a vehicle for marketing departments (and to accept those marketing dollars), you need to start understanding the fundamentals of how marketing works. Get to know the terms and basic principles.
  2. Think “in” and not “around.” Brands don’t just want to buy useless display ads around your video content, they want to collaborate with you and be worked into your content.
  3. Think socially. Digital content is more compelling to advertisers and brands when you open up the interactive possibilities of being online and leverage a viewer’s social graph. Get Facebook-y and Twitter-y with your content.
  4. Think about distribution. Before you pitch to potential sponsors, you need to have a distribution plan for your content that goes beyond putting it up on YouTube. How many episodes? How often will they roll out? Where will they roll out? How are you promoting them?
  5. Think deeper about brands. The makers of Dove believe it’s doing more than just selling soap — it’s about female empowerment. Truly understand what those behind a brand believes it stands for, research where it advertises and figure out why and how your content could fit in.
  6. Think about the specific industry. Sectors like pharma and kids will have specific laws around what and how things can be sold; if you’re going after a certain business, learn about it beforehand.
  7. Think about brands early on. Don’t take something already in the can and try to shoehorn a brand in there. The integration should be as natural as possible.
  8. Think celebs. Casting a web celeb who already has a fan base that can be leveraged is appealing to advertisers.
  9. Think about the RFP. No one will hand you a request for a proposal until you’ve earned it. Get to know, as best you can, the agencies and companies that issue them. Show them your work and get to a level where brand creators will tell you what their business problem is.
  10. Think about the ROI. At the end of the day, that’s the goal: sales. The more you can help to realize that goal, the better your chances of getting brand dollars will be.

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10 Responses to “Want to Get Your Web Series Sponsored? 10 Things to Think About”

  1. This was an excellent article, Chris! Independent production companies need a designated individual on the team who will research this kind of information. It takes a LOT of time! Hard for us ‘two-person operations’!!!! ;-)

  2. At LATV Fest it was also mentioned that if you have 1 Million viewers or more a week – every week – you won’t have trouble finding sponsors as long as your content is “brand” friendly and follows FCC rules.