December 12, 2007 Jill

I was lucky enough to attend the nextMEDIA conference entitled Monetizing Digital Media. I was interested in what opportunities there are for screenwriters in the ongoing digital wave and the word “monetizing” sounded promising.

I’ll get to the bottom line first: the money’s in advertising. Whether it’s banner ads, product placement or building a web show to sell a specific product, the place to get the dough is from a company, product or service that wants to reach an audience.

The subscription model hasn’t panned out very well for anyone who’s tried it (ahem, Playback). The audience mostly doesn’t want to shell out — at least right now.

The result is that most of the material that was presented at the conference was written/created/produced by Mad Men.

One example is game-website-ad campaign for the Toyota Scion called Little Deviant.

Another highly touted example was the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which you’ve undoubtedly seen but is still huge news in the advertising community.
We were also treated to two series: one sponsored by Tampax/Always and another by Tide.

Bryan Segal, a pretty impressive young guy from Comscore Media Metrix, detailed who is online and for how long; pretty much everyone and they’re spending more time on the web than in front of their tvs. Which is important because advertisers judge the value of your product on the basis of how many people look at it (Unique Page Views and Absolutely Unique Visitors are important concepts). There was a lot of talk about click-through which means that the viewer has clicked on the ad and gotten to the advertiser’s site.

There was more talk about mobile and mobile content — stuff for your phone. In many markets cell phones are used widely for their computing functions and ability to connect to the web. Everyone aknowledged that data prices are a big hurdle in Canada. But a drop in fees can’t be far off because there’s even more money to be made in selling you services for your phone.

The new generation of mobile phones are going to have GPS in them which means you’ll be able to get all kinds of cool location specific services.

But what does this mean to us, the screenwriters of the world? First, these are screens — whether its on your computer or on your phone — which makes them our domain. Second, we sure as hell don’t want to abandon this territory to the Mad Men. As much as we may love Don Draper’s ability to sell, it’s Matthew Weiner who we want entertaining us.

Compare projects created by artists like Clarke and Michael, Sanctuary for All and quarterlife to what shows the shows created by Tide and Tampax.

There was a feeling at the conference that this is a world that’s still exploding; still filled with opportunity. But it is still sorely lacking in story tellers who actually have stories to tell.

If you are a story teller ready to move into digital the burning question still remains: where’s the money? How does a screenwriter make a living writing new media?

The nextMEDIA conference climaxed with the announcement by Quebecor Media boss Pierre Karl Peladeau that will be the first Canadian web broadcaster to feature specially commissioned programs in English and French.

That may turn out to be one way a screenwriter can monetize digital media. But I’m not sure it’s enough to drive many of us in that direction.

Comments (3)

  1. Great summary Gill, as the Executive Producer of the Conference and an independent producer at heart I just wanted to note a few suggestions that screenwriters might use to monetize the ideas they generate through digital media.

    1. Partner with an savvy producer who understands how to get content distributed on multiple distribution platform (television, online, mobile, VOD) (see prom queen, jib jab, lonely girl 15 for some examples)

    2. From the outset of the idea try to identify appropriate brands and come up with a sophisticated way to intergrate them into the storytelling/production.

    3. Build a pricing structure for branding based on the number of people watching your content and how they are interacting with it and the brands

    4. Retain a piece of the distribution revenue (might be minimal and based on users) and/or work with ad networks and products like Google Ad Sense, Casale Media etc.

    5. And finally as a shameless plug keep checking out the events/programs offered at as facilitating business for content producers is what keeps us awake at night.


  2. Jill – for more info on how the new media model is going to work, check out today’s story in Variety re: Jackass 2.5.

    When they talk about synergy, I think this is an excellent example.

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