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IFILM's Fisk Explores the New Video Landscape

IFILM's Fisk Explores the New Video Landscape Jodi Harris

Linda Fisk is the vice president of marketing for IFILM, the internet's premier online destination for short-form entertainment. She oversees the development and execution of IFILM's strategic marketing vision and is also responsible for building marketing campaigns that capitalize on the company's leading position in the growing online video industry.

Before joining IFILM, Fisk was the Vice President of Online Marketing and Analytics for Scripps Network, and prior to that, she was vice president of audience development and management at Belo Interactive, a leading news and information web network. Fisk received a B.A. in communications from the University of Tennessee, and earned a master's degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University.

Jodi Harris: IFILM began as a destination for films that couldn't be seen anywhere else, and was one of the first players in the broadband video arena. How does the site continue to distinguish itself, and its content, from other broadband video sites that have entered the market?

Linda Fisk: IFILM offers a unique expertise in cultivating, curating and programming content that captures the funny, peculiar and unusual events of everyday. From the start, IFILM offered artists, known or unknown, the chance to distribute their video creations to millions of viewers worldwide, across multiple screens, and increase their visibility in a bid for celebrity. Millions of people visit IFILM each month, providing a significant audience for the amateur filmmaker to gain popularity and visibility.

Secondly, we provide unparalleled expertise in providing the best of user-generated and professional short-form entertainment to meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for interesting, challenging, provocative and unusual digital entertainment.

Thirdly, we are a powerful driver of rich video content to multiple platforms, across multiple screens, which allows us to have significant reach to a desirable consumer audience. IFILM content can be found on portals, social networks, blogs, consumer electronics devices, television networks, and almost every mobile video service.

Harris: In October 2005, IFILM was acquired by Viacom, the parent company of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and others. What strengths do you think this merger lent to IFILM?

Fisk: Being a part of the MTV Networks family has increased IFILM's reach, and allows IFILM to partner with the many MTVN channels on multi-platform programming and content initiatives. We have been strengthened significantly because each of the MTV Networks brands is truly synergistic, and we work to leverage the strengths of all our brands in a mutually beneficial way.

In return, IFILM offers MTV Networks an entrée into the world of user-generated content, enabling each of the MTV Networks properties to reach consumers who create their own video content. The IFILM acquisition has also led to the creation of hit multiplatform shows, most notably the new VH1 series entitled, "Web Junk 20," which is based on user-generated videos that were uploaded on IFILM. This TV show also lives across many screens, including VH1's VSPOT broadband channel and mobile phones. IFILM also has announced a partnership with Comedy Central, and IFILM will be developing more programming ideas with MTV Network channels in the future.

Harris: IFILM grew up on its reputation for showing short films, indie fare and viral or user-generated videos. It's now partnered with major studios, such as Time Warner and Disney. To what would you credit this transition? What does IFILM offer to mainstream film companies?

Fisk: We offer each of the major studios an opportunity to reach a highly sought-after, valuable audience for the promotion of their upcoming movies through trailers, clips and interviews in a compelling and entertaining way. IFILM also offers studios the chance to distribute their promotional message to millions of young, affluent, well-educated viewers worldwide, across multiple screens.

In addition, I think IFILM has been well-recognized and respected among the major studios as offering artists, known or unknown, the chance to distribute their video creations to millions of viewers worldwide, across multiple screens, and increase their visibility in a bid for celebrity.  IFILM is considered to be a gateway to reach an enthusiastic audience base and had quite a bit of success providing a significant audience for amateur filmmaker to gain popularity and visibility. There is a sense that IFILM is a credible, authentic vehicle for the talented filmmaker to gain visibility.

Harris: What can you tell us about some of the brand-building programs that IFILM offers to its advertising partners?

Fisk: Some of our best brand-building campaigns have revolved around custom programs and products based on our advertiser's specific needs. We try to understand exactly what goals our advertiser's are trying to reach, and build a custom program designed to meet those objectives.

The current Gillette "A Day in the Life" snow / skate user video contest exemplifies this idea well. This contest incorporates a branded media player and custom branded header integrations into the media mix, along with site-wide promotion for the product and the contest.

Exclusive sponsorships of custom showcases are another major brand-building product that we offer. For example, we have been able to offer SBC/AT&T exclusive sponsorships within our "Music Videos" channel in order to help build brand awareness of their "Blue Room" initiative.  These types of exclusive sponsorships allow advertisers to align themselves with a certain theme or idea that subsequently can be leveraged into a favorable brand perception among a key audience.

Harris: Your background includes working for Scripps Networks, where the challenge was to build an online presence for TV shows. Now you are marketing a web-only site devoted to film and video. Has this switch changed your core marketing strategies? What are your current challenges?

Fisk: At IFILM, I am focusing on reaching a target audience of young, affluent, well-educated and web-savvy adults through a combination of online search and hyper-targeted interactive media. This means organizing our business around our customers, and knowing them intimately. We know that young adults are united in their use of online entertainment and the latest communication techniques-- especially consumer-created content. We know they use the internet aggressively to manage their entertainment choices and access entertainment content. These attitudes and behaviors suggest that marketing that aligns with entertainment should particularly resonate with young adults. Reminders, alerts, listings, directories, blogs, podcasts, search, RSS and social networks have all got to be part of the mix in reaching this valuable but elusive audience.

Ultimately, we are beginning to organize our business around audience niches. Focusing on topics that consumers in a particular niche care about deeply, I believe, will naturally give rise to more cost-effective connections and deeper, richer audience relationships.

Harris: Can you tell us anything about IFILM's plans for branching out into other platforms and markets, such as mobile or international audiences?

Fisk: We are a powerful driver of rich video content to multiple platforms, across multiple screens, which allows us to have significant reach to a desirable consumer audience. We are embracing the mobile market and believe that this will be an important distribution device for video-based content. In fact, right now, consumers can find IFILM content on such mobile carriers as MobiTV, Cingular, Verizon, Ampd and Helio. And, we are also rolling out on MSN internationally in the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan. 

Jodi Harris is the editor of Entertainment Spot. Read full bio.

Jodi Harris is the Director of Editorial Content & Curation at Content Marketing Institute. As an independent consultant, Jodi develops strategic content programs and projects for brand, media, and agency clients in the marketing, entertainment,...

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