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Some of you out there may consider it TV on the Internet, and some of you may consider it TV for the Internet, but what a web series really is, is branded entertainment!

You may have heard of product placement – your favourite film star driving a fancy new car, or a popular brand of drink featuring clearly on the screen of your favourite soap opera. But have you seen a TV series that’s been built entirely around a brand or product? How about a series in which a product is the hero in the storyline? To see either of those, you’ll have to turn off your television and jump online.

As a leading boutique agency in content creation, The Delicatessen we thought we should explore the benefits of creating a web series for your brand:

Why spend your marketing budget on creating a web series?
Commercials are commonplace on television, but on the Internet you’ll find web series that both entertain and tell a brand’s message. Creating a web series for your brand is a highly engaging, yet subtle, approach to advertising. And while the audience may not be as big as network television, the level of engagement and specific target marketing is significantly greater.

Current web series are aimed primarily at the younger demographic simply because they:
1. Have more free time to spend online,
2. Are typically more willing to engage with the multi-platform social media components of the web series.
3. Are more open to active two-way online communication between brand and audience members.

Of course, your viewers won’t be obligated to share their web series engagement with their online community, but if your web series is doing its job and engaging the viewer, participation with your branded content will hopefully be a natural byproduct.

Is deep consumer engagement really necessary?
The concept of branded content wouldn’t exist if it didn’t provide a deep level of engagement for the consumer. Users don’t use social media or view branded online entertainment for the advertising; they use it for the content. But more importantly they love engaging with the brands that are important to them. Consider the back-and-forth communication between brands and consumers as having a free research panel at your disposal. Whether or not the consumer takes you up on having an online conversation with your brand is up to them, but it’s important to give them the option to communication with you if they want to.

How do you achieve brand messaging?
When it comes to telling your brand’s message there are almost as many methods as there are story lines – but up at number 1 is product integration (a completely different concept to the traditional product placement found on television).

Methods can include:
• Creating a web series around your brand or product.
• Matching your brand or product to an already written web series.
• Integrating your branded web series with an over arching advertising campaign across print and online.
• Creating a separate pre-roll commercial video for your product or brand to play before each web series episode.

4 challenges usually faced by brands

1. Time: Web series typically have a faster turn around than TV, which is great because it allows for real-time interactivity and fast launches, but it becomes a challenge for brands as they’re usually used to working at a slower pace.
2. Commitment: Brands may not be prepared for the amount of commitment required to fully engage with the audience of their web series. This commitment is critical if a web series is going to be successful, the more you engage the more the users will interact.
3. Letting go: Brands are used to be in control of every aspect of their messaging, but this time you need to be prepared to take a step back and let the audience of your web series grow organically.
4. Being comfortable: This is the biggest challenge faced by brands when launching a branded web series – you need to be comfortable with the user-generated content that will come out of it. Users will talk about your content in the comments, and you can’t shut that down!

But like any marketing activity you need to have a clear objective for how you’re going to measure the success of your web series. Is it going to be the number of videos? Reaching a new demographic? Increasing your social activity? Or, Changing the perception of your brand? If you don’t know what you’re aiming for the chances of hitting it are slim.

Want to talk about creating a web series for your brand? Get in touch with us and have a chat!