Dad LabsLess than two weeks after For Your Imagination‘s Spring 2009 Web Video Upfronts on November 20, DadLabs, the parenting video network for dads and by dads, announced a a six month, six figure exclusive sponsorship with baby products manufacturer BabyBjorn, according to DadLabs co-founder and host Clay Nichols.

BabyBjornDadLabs had been working with BabyBjorn on the sponsorship for over a month, according to For Your Imagination CEO Paul Kontonis, though the FYI upfronts—where the DadLabs shows were highlighted among the slate of web shows presented to New York ad execs and brand managers—may have catalyzed the deal’s closing. BabyBjorn, who has been a repeat advertiser since the relaunch of the DadLabs network in October 2007, will be the exlusive sponsor on the four current shows, leaving an opportunity for other brands (including past sponsors Graco, One Step Ahead and most recently Hasbro) to get in on the action. “We are developing new web series to be part of the DadLabs community to meet the needs of new advertisers as demand continues to grow,” said Kathryn Jones, Vice President of Branded and Sponsored Entertainment at FYI.

For Your Imagination Spring 2009 Web Video UpfrontMarkedly absent from the DadLabs deal is the involvement of advertising agencies, traditionally the gate keepers of brands. The DadLabs active and highly engaged viewership, although not huge compared to other parenting networks, may have appealed to BabyBjorn while the relatively low numbers were passed over by ad execs. “The brand to audience relationship is what’s at the heart of this deal,” Kontonis told us. “Clay, Brad, and Troy are the best ambassadors for the brand—this deal was not just about numbers but also about delivering the right content in the right context. DadLabs is advertiser-friendly and has a unique voice that differentiates it from other parenting content.”

The sponsorhip deal follows the current trend of grassroots niche audiences capturing the attention of major brands, like Felicia Day’s The Guild’s recent sponsorship by Microsoft and Sprint. We look forward to brands waking up to the still untapped potential of web series to connect with targeted audiences.

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