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The secret recipe for monetizing branded video content

The secret recipe for monetizing branded video content Bernie Su
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Emmy award-winning producer and show runner of the hit web series "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," Bernie Su has become a thought leader for marketers as well as a creative luminary. Why? Because he's trailblazing the ways solid business models can be implemented for online content creation. His hit web series has proved that you don't need a huge budget to accomplish huge things.


Su has now turned his attention to the creation of a new online show called "Emma Approved." In this exclusive interview, Su speaks with iMedia's David Zaleski on the lessons he learned from the completion of "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" in relation to the business model, as well as what marketers can learn from how his team approached the "Emma Approved" monetary strategy.


Great storytelling should be the main goal of any content creator, and the online space is no different. However, unlike traditional video platforms like television, it's much harder to monetize online video. Instead of formulating a strategy after the creation of the new web series, Bernie Su and his team began by thinking about the best way to position "Emma Approved" to be best suited for branded opportunities and monetizing social media. Here's how they accomplished that goal and how you can do the same on a larger scale.


Like its predecessor, "Emma Approved" is a web series designed to tell a story not just with video but through various media. "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" focused on video and social media. The amazing milestone that "Emma Approved" has accomplished is becoming a five-medium series featuring video, social, text (blogging), photos, and music. Here's how all of this translates into substantial financial sustainability, as well as a look at the strategy involved in making sure each medium relates seamlessly to the others.


How do you conduct product placement so it doesn't feel like product placement? The creative minds behind "Emma Approved" have found a successful strategy that can work for any video with a solid story: partnering with brands and seeding them into the narrative without mentioning them by name. In "Emma Approved," Emma wears a Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch, but she just calls it her "smart watch." Saying the name of the brand would feel out of place, not only for the audience watching but also for the narrative. Here's why letting your online audience absorb brands through storytelling -- rather than advertising -- could be a successful tactic for your video marketing.


Every product can have a story, which is why Bernie Su and his team were happy to undertake branded partnerships. There's nothing wrong with pushing a product if it accomplishes two goals: furthers your own content's narrative in a natural way and doesn't become a distraction. Brands need to take this concept and apply it to strategy even if they are not involved in the video world at all. Every brand can use its products to further its own brand narrative. Every brand has a story to tell. Instead of advertising your products, conduct creative marketing initiatives that give your brand a voice through your products.


Lastly, if your brand has a personality, you don't really need to market. Yes, Apple, Red Bull, Chipotle, and Virgin still advertise, but those brands have found their narratives. Apple customers aren't persuaded to buy Apple products because of a billboard; they do it because they want to be part of Apple's story. That's the main ingredient in online video content marketing -- a personality so strong and likable that buying that brand's products means feeling like a part of it. Find your voice, put it on video, and attract an audience naturally. That's a creative way you can accomplish your marketing goals.



Article written by David Zaleski.


Videos edited by Associate Media Producer Brian Waters.


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"Spices" image via Shutterstock.

Bernie Su is a multitalented and versatile writer, director, and storyteller. He is the head writer and an executive producer of the transmedia "Pride and Prejudice" adaptation, "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries." This modern-day reimagining of the classic...

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