YahooWith the news that WPP’s GroupM agency and Yahoo are teaming up to create some new brand-backed original web series, we were intrigued and wanted to find out a little more about the deal. GroupM after all is the parent of Mindshare Entertainment which produced the noted comedy web series turned TV pickup by ABC, In The Motherhood. That series itself was a brand-backed from the onset, with Sprint and Unilever’s Suave on board even before ABC came calling. Could this signal the start of Yahoo getting into scripted web series?

The deal itself is an ongoing one, where GroupM and Yahoo will jointly take series proposals, often just in rough synopsis form, and pitch those directly to brands to see if there’s a fit. Some of the early ideas being thrown around include a 50-state reality series looking at job hunting across the country (Now Hiring: The Great American Job Search), a series about a band on tour dubbed Rock N’ Roll Jet Plane and a mom-themed scripted comedy series Tales From the Carpool Lane.

We caught up with Yahoo VP Erika Nardini, who is heading up the GroupM partnership. While most of the series are still in development, she mentioned that no new series will get greenlit for production without commitment from a brand sponsor.

Tubefilter: What can we expect from this new set of web series? We’ve heard The Rock ‘N Roll Jet Plane!, Now Hiring: The Great American Job Search are in the works.

Nardini: We are in discussions around several concepts, including Rock N’ Roll Jet Plane and Now Hiring, but will not launch a new series until we’ve partnered with a brand partner, who will play an important role in the development process.

Tubefilter: Will there be more comedies scripted, following the success of Mindshare’s In The Motherhood?

Nardini: We will be exploring all formats, including scripted comedies, but it’s too soon to tell exactly which types of programs will launch.

Butterfinger comedy yahooTubefilter: So does this mean we’ll see Yahoo!’s first comedy web series?

Nardini: While Yahoo has never launched a scripted comedy series, we have do have a successful branded video initiative in the comedy category. In 2008, Yahoo Video launched the Butterfinger Comedy Network (BCN) for Butterfinger candy bar. The BCN features hundreds of the funniest videos from across the Web, and is a hub for the best in online comedy, spoofs, pranks, standup and original segments. The program has been a huge success in helping Butterfinger drive brand awareness among males ages 18-34, its key audience segment.

Tubefilter: How does this relate to existing Yahoo series like Primetime in No Time and Daytime in No Time? Will those shows be part of this partnership?

Nardini: We’re excited to continue a tradition of engaging and popular web programming, such as Primetime in No Time. We will continue to produce similar programs just as we’ve always done – by pairing a defined audience with an original show concept and matching it with an advertiser. The GroupM partnership will amplify these efforts by bringing together Yahoo!’s reach, technology and audience insights with GroupM’s creative expertise.

Tubefilter: Have any large brand partners been brought on yet as part of this deal?

Nardini: We are actively connecting with various brands in the market. However, given that this partnership was just announced we have not yet formalized any relationships for a specific program or partner.

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