Our Gang: Three Comedy Sites Link Up To Sell Ads, With Electus Leading

It’s better when everybody is laughing at the same time, and it’s also easier to sell advertising that way, which must be what Electus Digital and Demand Media are thinking.  

The two companies separately operate some of the biggest online video humor sites, and today Electus, which owns CollegeHumor.com and Dorkly.com. will announce that it will become the sales representative for Demand’s Cracked.com.

Together, the three sites will be rebranded as the CollegeHumor/Cracked Network which, as a combined entity, will be the “undisputed” top dog in comScore’s Entertainment-Humor category with 7.577 million unique visitors in February alone.

 So, brewskis all around!  But wait…

As any comedian will tell you, in comedy, timing is everything. It could be pretty deflating that while the laff world might be transfixed by this online marriage, it’s likely to be a little distracted right about now.

That’s because, as The New York Times and others major media began reporting last night, Zach Galifianakis somehow got President Obama to agree to appear on his silly parody talk show/cult hit “Between Two Ferns”-- and that’s on rival Funny Or Die. com.

That episode—newsworthy because “Between Two Ferns” can be very, very rude/crude/stupid and is a strange place indeed to find the leader of the free world—began airing this morning, shortly before the CollegeHumor/Cracked Network made its formal announcement. It was recorded two weeks ago.

Still, Obama’s presence is a great advertisement for the silly-male oriented-crude-online-comedy space also occupied by CollegeHumor, Dorkly and Cracked.com, which calls itself  “America’s Only Humor Site” and whose Google entry has a sub-category, Boobs, that is about what you think it’s about. 

None of these sites is humor from P.G. Wodehouse or even David Barry. Think “Animal House” instead. (A recent ColllegeHumor feature video was “The Oscars For Frat Boys.”) Dorkly is a site that kind of makes fun of video games, but not so much of video gamers. Sample fare: Things Superheroes Do That’d Be Creepy If You Did Them.”

But I’ve got to add that Cracked has gotten the The People’s Choice Webby two years in a row for Best Humor Site, a sign it’s got some legs. It’s also a legacy brand. Back before there was an Internet, guys looking for goofy adolescent humor bought Mad on newsstands and when that was sold out, would sometimes settle for Cracked.

The partnership, says Electus Chief Operating Officer, Drew Buckley, “gives us a much larger scale to reach any audience with great branded content on all those sites.”  

Comedy has a unique fit online, it seems to me. Clips can down and dirty quick, like jokes themselves. There’s a little set up, and a quick pay off and it works in online video where even longer pieces aren’t usually too long. “Comedy is obviously carried through social media,” Buckley says. “It’s a friend emailing you, ‘Oh my god, have you seen this funny clip?’ ”

The Electus and Demand sites, he says, are targeted at 18-34 males—no surprise there—but these sites can be branding engines beyond.

Funny or Die, partly owned by Will Farrell and Adam McKay, a couple years ago sold a chunk of itself to Turner Networks.

Electus is a partnership with Barry Diller’s IAC and was founded by Hollywood one-time boy wonder and former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment  Ben Silverman. Demand is best known for eHow.com and other verticals, so none of these major players just fell into the comedy space by accident. All of them seem poised for bigger picture stuff. The fact is, online video is a seriously great place to make money being funny.

 pj@mediapost.com

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