3 Steps to Winning a Cyber Lion at Cannes

BIG IDEAS IN BRANDED ENTERTAINMENTcyber_lion

The video snacking era has officially arrived and Branded Entertainment is booming. Nearly every website these days includes sponsored online video leaping off the computer screen, and more content means more opportunity. Page takeovers, episodic programming, social media, banner ads and user-generated content contests are just a few ways that advertisers, agencies and production companies are getting their message out on the web. Hits, followings and views are the new currency, which marketers use to measure their connection with customers. This is the new commercial production paradigm we live in, and these are the projects that are up for grabs. Rest assured, the next big idea in advertising will happen on the Internet. It's already begun.

The key question is: as a content producer, how do you take advantage of the phenomenon both technically and creatively? For starters, there's a crucial point to remember: the thirty is not dead. In fact, it's still a stand-bearing flagship and invaluable asset to any creative portfolio. A majority of Internet pre-roll video is still thirty or fifteen seconds long. Many advertisers are simply migrating their broadcast elements to the web and calling it Branded Entertainment. Therefore, the ability to win and execute traditional spot-work is really a necessary fundamental upon which a more sophisticated, multi-platform Internet strategy can be built.

With so many directions to consider, here are three keys to success in the Branded Entertainment space.

1. Innovation. It is always crucial, especially when it comes to the larger concept of interactivity: finding unique, entertaining and benefit-focused ways for the consumer to engage with functional online content. Creating video content for the web is only half the battle; the next step is leveraging it to galvanize a proactive following. That lightening-in-a-bottle challenge is to have your sponsored clip become legend, a part of the zeitgeist, and to see it, in turn, move product.

2. Great Talent. On the technical side, hiring some combination of writers, directors, producers, designers and programmers that can anticipate and execute interactive multi-media is one of the best ways to get ahead of the learning curve. If this approach proves too costly, forming partnerships with some of the better interactive shops, like Brand New School, The Ebeling Group or Domani Studios, is an important prerequisite to pursuing this work.

3. Creative Intelligence. Knowing the possibilities, and then knowing how to go beyond them: this is perhaps the most important factor. For example, the Touching Stories iPad series was created to be an exclusive content piece that radically demonstrates the touch-screen applications of the iPad. 5 different directors created 4 different stories, each one highlighting a key product benefit that only iPad's touch-screen could deliver. It also employed the interactive concept of a story tree with multiple narrative branches for viewers to explore. This is the type of creativity companies will need to embrace if they are to lead.

Almost ten years have past since the watershed BMW Films series. Now, the term that most aptly applies to the industry is media agnostic. It's no longer enough to start an emerging media department and call it a day. Companies need to firmly embrace the maelstrom of technological growth and look for ways to capitalize on the production experience they already own. Technology has thrown the gauntlet down - is the industry ready to take it up?

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