Online Media Companies Bring Big Names to Court Viewers and Advertisers

Although there have been increasing numbers of viewers – and, as a result, advertisers – moving away from television to online video, there are still challenges to be met with Internet programming.

One of the biggest challenges is keeping online video audiences around long enough to make advertising profitable – and quality content might be the answer. At least, that’s the idea that several top media companies are betting on.

High, quality engaging web series is a key part of future strategies for building audiences and selling advertising. Taking guidance from broadcast networks and cable channels, online media companies are bringing big names in front of and behind the camera to woo audiences and advertisers.

For example, AOL is launching projects with designer Jonathan Adler, actor Hank Azaria, celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito and Oscar award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few. Hulu’s projects will involve Mario Batali, Carson Daly, Eva Longoria and Seth Meyers. Yahoo! has a similar lineup with well-known names like Morgan Spurlock, Cheryl Hies, Zachary Levi and John Stamos involved in web series projects. These announcements and more were made in a series of “up front” presentations in New York by the top media companies – which are called Digital Content NewFronts this year. Similar to broadcast television “up fronts,” these presentations were designed to court advertisers and help media companies improve their image.

During its presentation, Yahoo! announced that it doubled their original video programming in the last year. President and CEO Marissa Mayer explained that premium content was one of Yahoo!’s top three goals for the company in the coming years. With the star-studded line-ups, it’s clear that other media companies and betting the same thing.

Online video is a good move for media buyers as well. On television, brand advertisements are skipped over frequently with DVR technology. But commercials on online platforms such as Hulu do get viewed and have a high brand recall. Nielsen is taking notice as well. It announced recently that it will begin a pilot program to track digital programming ratings, which will measure the audiences for linear television content online. AOL, A & E, ABC, CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBC and Univision are on board for the pilot program.

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