Upfronts are a long standing television convention.  Networks have traditionally setup these big events to woo advertisers with an upcoming season lineup and a swank party.  But new technology and an ever-shifting entertainment landscape have vastly changed this institution; its become less an opportunity to showcase new programs — which, I’m told, are now often sent direct to advertisers — and instead a ceremonial party.  Last February, YouTube also got into the game with an event set to prove that they’re not just dogs on skateboards.

For Your Imagination, the always innovative internet-television studio, is the first of its kind to regularly host upfronts. Do they work?  Why aren’t other internet studios hosting similar events?

I had a chance to to talk to CEO Paul Kontonis about FYI, their upfronts event, their distinctive value proposition and his plan for what looks to be a difficult ad market.

But first, check out this preview of their continued and upcoming lineup…

Tilzy.TV: What does the upfront do for FYI?

FYI: The upfront alerts our agency partners that there is new content available for their brands to sponsor. as the agencies are getting their 2009 budgets, we want to make sure we are top of mind as a very powerful and cost effective media solution.

Tilzy.TV: Are you satisfied with the outcome?

FYI: Yes very satisfied. We received a wonderfully positive response to the new verticals and shows.

Tilzy.TV: Ad budgets for online video are still seen as experimental by most agencies, and as the recession lingers, many of those budgets are bound to dwindle.  What’s your plan for revenue growth in what looks to be a difficult market?

FYI: We are focusing on the ability to deliver targeted audiences, impactful messaging and in large inventory. This will differentiate our videos from UGC and mass entertainment type of content that lacks the ability to be a high quality and targeted medium.

Tilzy.TV: Most of your content was originally produced in-house, but many of your newer shows have come through partnerships with outside production.  Is this a strategy shift?

FYI: Our production capabilities are focused on the custom branded entertainment web series we produce directly for brands. Our network of producers allow us to call upon very talented writers and producers that have experience developing targeted and high quality content.

Tilzy.TV: Should marketing/audience building/ad sales and production be separate businesses?

FYI: The web allows for producers to be distributors and there are important benefits to keeping them together. Not only does be distributor allow you to accurately measure the reach of your content but also to fine tune the content based upon key words, comments and viewers on the various platforms.

Tilzy.TV: There are a handful of similar production studios acquiring/licensing/marketing content from independent producers.  What distinctive value do you bring potential partners?

FYI: We differentiate ourselves by focusing on specific verticals with specific audiences and with the ability to deliver a powerful reach of up to 60 million views a month depending on the targets. It is a powerful value proposition being able to develop that content that engages a specific audience and then being able to ensure that they press play.

Tilzy.TV: How can they pitch to you?

FYI: Present at our monthly Big Screen Little Screen meetup in NYC, find us at one of the various conferences we are presenting at or use the contact form on our site. We are very receptive to pitches that match our verticals – comedy, parenting, green, personal finance and style.

Tilzy.TV: How can you communicate ROI to a brand that’s considering building custom entertainment?

FYI: We able to deliver ad impressions levels that are comparable with major media outlets but with much higher effectiveness – recall and call to action ratesindustry wide are very high and proving that high quality original video is very effective. Plus why spend money on producing a TV commercial and then having to buy media to try to get your message into many households when we can develop an original web series for a fraction of the budget and deliver millions of views with informative metrics.

Check out this prolific lineup of targeted programming at ForYourImagination.com!

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