Pundits weigh in on product integration matchmaker site
This week marked the launch of Culver City, CA-based marketing match site mediamatchmaker.com, and media pundits on this side of the border were quick to give their opinion. The subscription-based site, helmed by partners Betsy Green, a former Fox TV product placement manager, and entertainment lawyer Jim Mahoney, uses an online dating interface model to connect
This week marked the launch of Culver City, CA-based marketing match site mediamatchmaker.com, and media pundits on this side of the border were quick to give their opinion. The subscription-based site, helmed by partners Betsy Green, a former Fox TV product placement manager, and entertainment lawyer Jim Mahoney, uses an online dating interface model to connect marketers to production companies (and vice versa) for promotions, sponsorships, and product integration opportunities. According to Green, mediamatchmaker.com automates the prospecting, pitching and negotiation process.
‘This connects small-to-medium sized players to the big ones. And big ones would be interested because there’s access to new opportunities here. We’re like having a hundred sales people working for you,’ says Green. ‘You can enter information in the fields, walk away to get a cup of coffee and come back to a list of potential matches.’ Green says the mediamatchmaker.com has a dynamic database and that her staff screen any information uploaded on the site, screening creditworthiness, previous productions and the like. After that, they’re out of the loop and it’s between the potential partners to work out a deal.
Green won’t disclose the price to play, but she does allow that fees depend on the size of the company. ‘A multi-media company like Fox will pay a different fee than the smaller studios,’ she says. Signed so far are media agencies Starcom Mediavest in Chicago and Magna Global in New York. Multimedia company clients include Sony TV, AETN (owners of A&E, The Biography Channel, and the History Channel) and Fox’s syndicated television arm, Twentieth TV.
On this side of the border, media pundits were hesitant.
‘I think [product placement] is tough as a mechanical tool,’ warns Theresa Treutler, SVP and media director at Toronto-based Doner Canada. ‘It’s not something a computer can pick up. The best [integration] is a link between the brand and the vehicle. Let’s take, for example, E.T. and Reese’s Pieces. There’s a huge element of judgment behind product integration. What is the thought process that person went through to realize that it’s a fit?’
Sunni Boot, president of ZenithOptimedia in Toronto agrees. ‘I’m not sure if this is what I’d want for product placement, ‘ she says. ‘[The process] is very labour-intensive and I wouldn’t want to go online and damage years of brand-building. I mean how many boxes of cereal can Seinfeld eat? ‘
Boot does, however, see the merits of mediamatchmaker.com as a starting point to see who is out there looking. ‘If it can eliminate 30 from a pile of 100 pitches, then there’s a value. And maybe as opportunities increase, it may help us sort through them.’
On the other hand, M2 Universal’s Hugh Dow finds the concept ‘interesting, depending on who lists there.’
Dow believes that mediamatchmaker.com is a great tool for those new to product integration and that the site should attract first-timers. Veterans of product placement already have relationships in place and they would be hard-pressed to remove themselves from the process, says Dow.
‘It involves collaboration between a producer, the agency and the client. I’m sure it will attract clients but it won’t put placement agencies out of business.’ Dow adds that he’s curious about the mediamatchmaker’s pricing structure, but says his group will likely ‘play around with it.’
For CanWest MediaWorks’ Gaye McDonald, VP of Marketing Ventures, this is a step in the right direction. ‘It’s exciting to see the long-term growth opportunities around product placement,’ she says. Her caveat? Accountability. As in computer dating, she says, there’s no guarantee. ‘In this business, it’s important that you’re accountable. Introductions can only go so far.’
Mediamatchmaker.com is offering a free trial until February 28.