Every day, advertisers are spending more money on web video. As an independent producer, how do you access this opportunity? The Caucus for Writers, Producers, & Directors, an alliance of television and new media content creators, explored this question with its latest panel “The Creative Independent and the Web,” held yesterday morning at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

CaucusThe panel, moderated by NATPE President & CEO Rick Feldman, offered perspectives on the different pathways producers can get to the money by creating the content that advertisers are looking for.

Lori Schwartz, Chief Technology Catalyst at McCann Worldgroup, explained that brands want to be involved in independent online video, but encounter difficulty discovering and connecting to the producers. “It’s still the wild west out there,” she remarked. For Tim Kring, Creator and Executive Producer of Heroes, finding a meeting with advertising agencies wasn’t difficult for him. Still, he commented, the brands gave a significant influence on the outcome of the project. Kourosh Taj, Co-President & Head of Programming, No Good TV, found a way to rake in revenue share as an independent YouTube Partner with over 800,000,000 (yes that’s almost a billion) upload views. Nevertheless, he said, the best deals happen when an advertiser approaches him and he can integrate the brand message or product into the show.

Herman Rush, former head of Columbia Pictures Television, stressed the importance of audience guarantee—a crucial factor in his recent web series deal with General Mills. Amber J. Lawson, AOL’s Head of Video Programming, talked how AOL focuses on the boomers rather than the 18-24 demographic. “One of our most popular videos is about how to set up a Facebook page,” she said.

The missing link, according Schwartz, is evaluating the return on investment for the brand. “Data is currency to a marketer,” she commented. “I want to be able to say ‘your dollar accomplished this’ to an advertiser. With a tv and digital combined metric, she suggested, brands would be more comfortable committing bigger dollars.

Disclaimer: As the Chair of the New Media Committee on the Caucus, I served on the panel committee for this event.

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