Dubbed House of Max, the studio will create custom ads designed to align the client's ad message with the content viewers are watching. The studio will also create ad experiences, such as Brand Blocks, that let advertisers sponsor content with minimal commercial interruptions.
WarnerMedia and other media companies have already established studios to create branded content for advertisers. So have streamers like Roku and Fubo TV. House of Max was designed particularly for streaming, though it will also produce content for WarnerMedia’s entertainment cable networks as well.
HBO Max’s ad supported tier was designed to have among the lightest commercial loads on television. Commercials will appear in HBO Max Original programming, but not in HBO original shows.
According to the company’s recent research report, Welcome to the Age of Intentionalism, 65% of consumers think more favorably of a brand when they provide fewer commercial interruptions during content.
The survey also said that they want advertisers to not just fit the context of the shows they’re watching but to provide additional entertainment.
When HBO Max with Ads launched in June, advertising from 35 brands went live across the platform. That included two activations for auto and insurance clients that were developed by House of Max.
With the formal launch of House of Max, branded content opportunities will be available starting in the fourth quarter.
House of Max will be headed by Maureen Polo, senior VP of entertainment marketing solutions for WarnerMedia. Polo had been with Fullscreen, which was acquired by AT&T. Fullscreen’s branded content studio has now become House of Max, part of WarnerMedia.
“Our goal across all of HBO Max is to make sure that no matter what experience you’re paying for, the experience is meaningful,” Polo told Broadcasting + Cable. “Not only are we going out there with the lightest ad load in the market, but also through House of Max, we’re going to be giving consumers the most impactful branded experiences.”
While consumers want fewer commercials interrupting their shows, the HBO Max research also found that consumers "want cohesive experiences. They want to have commercials that connect with them in really meaningful ways around the IP and the content that matters to them," she said. "Consumers are expecting that brands can become the entertainment. They want them to develop shows for them. We have a studio that’s really been set up to deliver on those consumer expectations."
Another former Fullscreen exec, Elaine Andrade, senior VP and executive creative director for WarnerMedia, is the creative lead for House of Max.
“We’re seeing great engagement on HBO Max with Ads since the platform launched in June, with customers telling us they enjoy and appreciate our short ad breaks and seamless ad experience,” said Julian Franco, senior VP of product management for HBO Max. “House of Max will help us provide an even better experience for our viewers, offering brand partners the opportunity to develop custom creative that fits in seamlessly with HBO Max’s premium content and interface.”
For some clients, House of Max will work with WarnerMedia’s other branded content studios, CNN’s Courageous, which focuses on storytelling and documentaries, and Turner Sports’ Playmaker.
House of Max will also create branded content for WarnerMedia’s other entertainment channels including TNT, TBS, truTV, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting + Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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