Betting on a network of webisodic content

Rebecca Weeks Watson · June 8, 2009 · Short URL:

DBG creates, produces, and distributes long-form branded video content

 Instead of building individual video destinations across the Web that users have to find on their own, why not distribute content to places where massive audiences already exist? This is the position being pursued by Chris Young’s fast-growing startup, Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG). The DBG Video Network, which now includes 2,600 sites that reach over 111 million unique users, can distribute branded video content, pre-roll ad units, and other long-form assets. What’s more, DBG helps agencies and advertisers concept and produce original video programming. For example, the company co-produced Kung Fu Sessions (performances and interviews with A-list musicians) and along with Mediavest developed last year’s “The Style Series” for Diet Coke.

Chris isn’t new to the online video industry. In 1999, he founded Klipmart, which led the evolution of video ads running within online banners. In 2006, the company sold to DoubleClick, which was later acquired by Google.

I asked Chris to share some of his company’s vision as well as describe some of the goals that online branded video content helps to achieve.

RW: Why did you choose to create one hybrid company (part creative agency and part video distribution platform), versus focusing on only doing one of those really well? What are some of the benefits to advertisers?

CY: When I started the company, I wanted it to be more than the distribution of linear and non-linear advertising. By combining production with distribution we could function as an ad network as well as an innovator in the branded content space online. What this does is afford agencies and brands the ability to partner with us as a reach vehicle for their existing video assets as well as a one-stop-shop for concepting, producing and distributing original longer form content. Currently we’re working with all kinds of different people in creating shows for the Internet, whether they’re scripted comedies, documentaries, etc. Then, we secure agencies and advertisers to sponsor the show.

RW: It seems like online users’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, especially among Generation Y. How is long-form video performing?

CY: Whenever you use video as a tool for engagement, you have to take into account the medium in which it is being viewed. For online branded content, we’ve found that “long” form video at two to four minutes captures a significant level of engagement and interaction. Generation Y might not be watching 30 minute shows, but two to four minute webisodes, when compared to :15 or :30 second spots, achieve three and four times the amount of exposure for the brand.

RW: Is there a particular target audience or type of creative that works best for long-form?

CY: The receptivity of the content among differing demographics (Gen Y and all others audiences) is ensured by targeted distribution of the content to demo relevant destinations, and this is where the DBG Video Network is utilized by our clients. Our network, which was recently measured by comScore as having a potential reach of 111 monthly unique visitors, consists of over 2,600 sites and properties (premium Tier I and II sites included). This is the exposure vehicle to place branded content in front of specific audiences.

RW: What goals does your original branded content series achieve for your marketing clients: Awareness? Purchase intent? Other?

CY: As with most online video based initiatives, the average seconds watched is a key metric for brand exposure and important to driving awareness. What we’ve also found is that when you offer users a series of related webisodes along with ways to share that content, interaction spikes as well. Most of our campaigns to date have largely been brand based with the goal of driving awareness of the specific brands and their latest initiatives. Be on the look out for a DBG Branded Content white paper later in the year to help the industry define benchmarks for branded content campaigns.

RW:  Walk me through some of the results of your most impressive client video ad campaign to date.

CY: Ha Ha. Although I would love to share our latest and greatest metrics to our campaigns, I don’t think our clients would want us to share that proprietary data. That said, a few months ago we finished our first season of Style Series, which was presented by Diet Coke, and the reaction we received from the clients—both agency and brand side—was extremely positive. It was a three part show that featured A-list talents such as Grammy Award Winning R&B singers Rihanna and Robin Thicke in addition to fashion icons Cynthia Rowley, international pop singer Natasha Bedingfield and other talents from the film and fashion world. We filmed the talent within the Reuters’ Studio in New York and streamed the performances and interviews within the electronic billboards in Times and simultaneously streamed it live online and on mobile phones. You can watch the webisodes online at

RW: When a client comes to you and says, “I need a viral video,” how do you respond? Is a successful model really replicable?

CY: To be honest, I tell them, “That’s not us.” I’ve always felt that if you’re going for one big viral hit, you’re missing the inherent value of online content. Good content is always engaging, and there are so many opportunities that spring out of creating a series of videos that reach users on a repeat basis and hold their attention. Also, very few viral videos are branded, and there’s a reason for that: consumers are smarter and more aware of when they’re being sold to, so why put money where the odds are against you and the pay-off isn’t as great as building an on-going relationship with interested users?

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