• NYTVF Digital Day Highlights: Indie Success through Branded Entertainment, Syndication

    Originally conceived four years ago as a platform for burgeoning independent television producers, the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), which just finished up this weekend, has jumped ahead of the looming convergence by giving online video a progressively larger focus, particularly through its "Digital Day."

    Started in 2008, Digital Day is a daylong event with panels discussing the digital entertainment landscape. This year's panels included producers and executives from MSN/Bing, Blip.TV, Next New Networks, Digitas' The Third Act, NBC Universal, and Electus' Ben Silverman. The topics discussed were primarily monetization through brand integration and syndication on major portals.

    Almost all of the panels emphasized that branded entertainment is the best way to go to monetize independent online video. Nonetheless, many producers and executives seemed to view brand integration as a necessary evil, yearning for when it is no longer needed. Even Ben Silverman, whose company Electus exclusively does branded entertainment, mentioned that brand integrations helped keep television afloat in its early days before the platform matured.

    In separate panels, both Paul Kontonis of The Third Act and Kevin Townsend of Science + Fiction urged creators to always focus on an audience first. Focusing too hard on the brands can lead to poorly-received content. This will reduce the amount "earned media" received through critical reviews or social media making the spend for the advertiser less efficient.

    While earned media is preferred, as Silverman explained, in order to scale there is a need to promote. This can be accomplished either through advertising or more interestingly, syndication. Many panelists discussed the potential of working with major outlets such as YouTube, MSN, and Blip.TV. The benefits of partnership include access to a pre-existing viewership along with site-level promotion. I expect we'll see more deals brokering branded and non-branded content alike.

    There were a number of other interesting topics discussed including a NATPE panel on how major companies are using transmedia to promote and expand their shows' brands. Replays of all of the panels are available here.