Despite Hurdles, Made-for-Broadband Video Projects Proliferate
Still, discipline is the key to success. That was my takeaway from a conversation I had yesterday with Michael Wayne, co-founder and CEO of DECA, an online-only entertainment company whose properties include Smosh, Momversation, Good Bite and others. Michael notes DECA's success stems from being very analytical about which projects to greenlight. Key success criteria include how large the targeted audience is, how engaged they are (measured by things like blogging, Twittering, commenting), whether other media properties have succeeded with the audience and if there's demonstrated advertiser interest.
Importantly, DECA looks hard for pre-existing online communities or "tribes" along with "tribal leaders" as Michael puts it - people who have emerged from the online rabble to become recognized leading voices in their vertical space. DECA tries to partner with these tribal leaders to build properties that have video at their core, but capitalize on all the publishing and interactive capabilities the web has to offer. Michael notes the need for all of this to be done on very lean, non-Hollywood budgets.
Momversation Hits 100 Episodes, Mommybloggers As Stars
Momversation hit the vaunted 100th episode marker this week, and the A-list mommyblogger show continues to draw audiences not just as viewers but as active participants. Santa Monica-based DECA, the digital studio that created the web series, says this frequent community chatter was by design.
Shortly after it launched back last November, DECA was able to land retailer Target as an exclusive sponsor for the property, convincing them that their remote assembling of mommybloggers would bring together quite the audience of wired 25-45 year-old moms.
Press Release: DECA Celebrates 100 Episodes of “Momversation”
Groundbreaking Digital Brand Continues To Bring Together The Web’s Top Mom Bloggers To Discuss All Things “Mom;”
Upcoming Guests Include U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Santa Monica, CA (July 29, 2009)
DECA, the digital media and entertainment company known for creating high-quality online video and communities, is proud to celebrate the 100th episode of one of its premier properties, Momversation.
“Momversation has proven to be the perfect forum for moms - and dads - to share experiences and discuss topics of real importance to today’s parent,” says Momversation executive producer Rob Morhaim. “We’re so grateful to have the wittiest and wisest moms on the Internet today sharing their knowledge and their insight. We’d like to thank our users for creating this vibrant Momversation community.”
Momversation has become an outlet for women from all different walks of life to join the online conversation. Guests who have appeared on the show include Lisa Belkin, writer of “The Motherlode” blog for The New York Times and the author of three books, including “Life’s Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom”; Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell, author of “Full of Life: Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant”; and Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner, Emmy Award-winning producers on NBC’s Today Show and authors of “Today’s Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby’s First Year.” United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has a scheduled appearance on the show in August.
Momversation has been noted on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, The New York Times, and Business Week.
Launched in November 2008, the series includes in its roster the Web’s most-respected and most-trafficked mommy bloggers. Among the rotating cast of panelists are: • Heather Armstrong of dooce.com, featured by Forbes Magazine among 30 honorees on its list of "The Most Influential Women In Media" for 2009, and author of The New York Times bestseller, “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, A Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita.” • Comic Daphne Brogdon of coolmom.com, host of TV Guide Channel’s weekly series The Fashion Team, contributor to CNN Headline News’ Showbiz Tonight, and host of FOX’s Web show 24 Inside. • Rebecca Woolf of girlsgonechild.net, author of the memoir “Rockabye: From Wild to Child” and contributor to MSN and The Huffington Post. • Additional panelists include: Alice Bradley of Finslippy.com, Asha Dornfest of ParentHacks.com, Giyen Kim of BaconIsMyEnemy.com, Dana Loesch of Mamalogues.com, Maggie Mason of MightyGirl.com, Mindy Roberts of TheMommyBlog.net, and Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.com.
Momversation’s success has been attributed to the combination of great talent with a production process that’s organic to the Web. “Momversation exemplifies the DECA model,” says DECA co-founder and CEO Michael Wayne. “By recognizing and nurturing talent that is unique to the Web, DECA has created a distinctive new type of online entertainment and information format.” Momversation posts three episodes a week, each approximately three to five minutes in length. Every episode features three or four of the panelists discussing a new topic.
Is This a Web-Series Model That Works?
DECA, an acronym for Digital Entertainment Corp. of America, is exploring several ways to produce Web series in unusually marketer-centric ways. It seeks extended sponsorships—generally three months or longer, the prices for which start in the six figures—for specific properties. Rather than attempting to import to the Web the scripted series model birthed by television, DECA capitalizes on existing bloggers' popularity to build properties that feature established online personalities and are aimed at specific demographic slices. It also enlists its talent to make and star in commercials for its advertisers. If this works, DECA will have found a way to fund online video—having a long-term sponsor or two significantly reduces the pressure to sell lots of ads—and bring chary advertisers into a new media realm.
Studios-Backed Web Efforts Stalled for Now; Who's Left?
Meanwhile, some of the studio efforts left in the field include...DECA, which is now focusing on video-focused vertical community sites like Momversation and others.
Digital Power 2009
Content Captains: Developing new-media programming to remember
Co-founder, president and CEO, DECA
Wayne launched his first startup, an English-language magazine in Prague, right out of college in 1995. He then helped build music site Launch.com, which raised $80 million in 2001 and was later bought by Yahoo. And since 2007, he's raised $15 million for his digital entertainment startup that nurtures "organically grown Internet stars." So far, he's built seven properties, including Smosh, a teen site that's the third most-watched YouTube channel of all time; Momversation, videos and blogs by moms; and Project Lore, dedicated to the popular online game World of Warcraft. "There is this idea that talent is based in L.A," he says. "We feel that Internet talent is all over the world."
Digital Dealmakers: Michael Wayne, Co-Founder and CEO of DECA
The player: Michael Wayne, co-founder and CEO of digital studio DECA.
The play: DECA is a digital studio that funds, markets and distributes digital shows. The company makes money via advertising support for its shows.
The pitch: DECA’s focus is on nurturing talent and personalities who are unique to the Web, Mr. Wayne said. In addition, DECA aims to bring brands early on into Web-centric content that they feel comfortable sponsoring. The company’s projects include Momversation, Project Lore and Smosh. These all have a Web ethos but are also brand-safe for many advertisers, Mr. Wayne said. DECA has stuck deals with brands including Activision, Bank of America, Blizzard, Falcon Northwest, IBM, Target, Verizon and Visa.
Seven Video Content Pioneers to Watch
DECA is always surprising me. It really looks at the digital space as a blank canvas and constantly rethinks and reinvents what a content experience might look like. Some projects it's developed over the last year include the innovative vlogger aggregated show Momversation and expansion of the Smosh empire. And in addition to developing and expanding great shows, it also develops the brand utilities that surround shows and motivation strategies.
Who Will Survive Online Shakeout?
Digital studios like DECA, Agility, Next New Networks, Electric Farm Entertainment, Revision3 and others are fiercely competing with YouTube, Hulu, broadcast and cable networks and online video advertising networks for the precious few Web video ad dollars. Media firm Magna forecasts the U.S. market for online video will grow by 32% this year, rising from $531 million in 2008 to $699 million in 2009.
Momversation - Interact with Mommy Bloggers. Become a Smarter Parent.
We were very impressed when we first got a look at Momversation. The site is attractive and it’s easy to find current and recent posts as well as links to the site’s other features. Getting into Momversation is as easy as clicking on the play button for the video. You will see a well produced video featuring some of the site’s nine panelists. Within each video, there are short snippets from each panelist, keeping the viewer’s interest levels high. Once an episode is over, there are opportunities to connect with the panelists and with other moms through the blog comments and the site’s own forum.
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