SXSW Interactive – Web Series 2.0 Takeaways

Web Series 2.0 – Big Campaigns on Digital Dollars at SXSWi as heard by session panelists Melissa Fallon, Chris Hanada, Milo Ventimiglia, Wilson Cleveland, Andrew Hampp

Today’s web series have a similar level of panache to TV, as television had to film 60 years ago.

Just as television exploded as  families installed tens of millions TV sets in “rec rooms” nationwide, web series are poised for a similar leap.  Different from advertising commercials, brands are using producing web series to build awareness.   Here are some points on web series made by the panel:

The  Concept

Brands are funding web series projects, much like studios are producer.

Web Series as a social media approach – is perceived as less contrived in that they capitalize on “people/actors” who, through a storyline, promote a brand.

Producers:  The Brand

Chief marketing officers (CMO’s ) are rapidly morphing into to production executives in addition to their branding responsibilities.  Successful web series projects depend upon storytelling and honest dialogue.

CMOs express that to benefit from web series, new product brands must add value.  They need to be utilitarian and meet basic human needs.

If a brand is based upon selling something tangible (cars, supplies, etc.), viewers should be driven then to a micro site.  Otherwise if the brand is  selling a lifestyle choice such as soda, it’s not necessary to include a site.

Directors: The Storyline

It’s a challenge to keep out “brand” creep in story lines.
Web series directors are vigilant about not compromising the storyline.  They understand their audience will scent out the inauthentic and be turned off.

Here’s an example … One brand wanted to insert a shot of their soap in a morning segment where one of the actors would use the soap to wash her face.   Because the brand was being imposed in a storyline, it was quickly countered and turned down.

Although acceptable to include the brand in a banner on the screen page, it’s not okay to  insert in content.

The Content

Content can be appropriately self-deprecating.  For instance, a temp agency has no real brand since it’s success is based upon blending services with other organization clients.

Whereas a car dealership production executive, for instance, will present very clear boundaries.  For instance, they will demand that their cars not be featured in any damages or crashes to the automobile.

Content needs to make sense.  One director had raw eggs being thrown at a brand’s delivery truck.  The brand’s producer cabashed that concept big time.

The Talent

Web series are new to the acting montage and can offer  more collaborative opportunity to engage acting talent.  Actors are often attracted to web series if purposefully involved in the creative process to collaborate and even direct web series.

Web series are successful, not just about the “cool” factor and hiring the biggest star.  Good web series also create stars.

Web series need skilled actors in story line roles. Actors are employed for their acting ability just as they are hired for TV series or film.  They are not to endorse or be spokespeople for the brand.

Web Series Syndication Example

It is a challenge to promote web series.  Here is how IKEA did it.

IKEA syndicates its Web Series  by using its IKEA Fan Clubs.

The 10 most highly trafficked IKEA Fan Clubs were asked to promote the series.  The carrot? The Club that generated the most traffic gets written into the season finale.

by: Linda Brown Rivelis, President