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NYC TV Week: Networks, Producers See Opportunities in Branded Content

Branded content is becoming an increasingly important way for shows to generate revenue as traditional 30-second spots come under fire.

“There is a huge shift of advertisers looking to market via stories,” said Dan Riess, executive VP of integrated marketing and branded content for Turner Broadcasting Ad Sales, speaking at the Content Show on Oct. 21. “We can look within content or content we can make for them.”

Riess said the advertising model is changing. “Your distribution is going to pivot to serve brands. It becomes how do we create a story about what the brand wants to talk about that will be interesting to our audience. It’s a huge opportunity for creative people.”

Niels Schuurmans, executive VP, Viacom Velocity Creative Content Solutions, who moderated the panel noted that it used to be that producers might be willing to integrate into a show in return for free stuff to use in those shows.

“Networks now have to get producers to understand that the dynamics of the industry are different. Because they’re driving revenue, they’ll stay on the air with low ratings,” he said.

Michael Nieporent, director of brand, marketing & digital strategy at dick clark productions, said “We like doing things that are cross platform and have a pay off for the viewer and have real entertainment value.” He said during award shows, for example, marketers can sponsor a voting segment, or provide viewers with additional content they can unlock by using codes or devices.

Schuurmans said that  producers should identify places in their shows where branded content could work. He said in the pilot of MTV’s Finding Carter, a character worked in an ice cream parlor. It was generic, but we could make it Dairy Queen or Friendly’s and it wouldn’t take away from the art,” he said.

Brands, though, sometimes have to have a sense of humor. Schuurmans pointed to Arby’s, which after months of being picked on by Jon Stewart, embraced the humor and created branded content within Stewart’s final Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Of course not every client is easily amused. Schuurmans said one $8 million deal went away after Stephen Colbert said something about the brand the client felt was disparaging.

“And some of the conversation we’ve had about [Comedy Central star Daniel] Tosh. Holy Cow. Subway. Eat Fresh. Imagine how he would deal with that,” he added.

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.