Given the expected intent of commoditizing inventory, electronic auctioning media systems have generally been shunned by media sellers. Yet the temptation to streamline the media-buying process continues.
Veteran branded entertainment agency, the Marina del Rey, Calif.-based Brand in Entertainment, now says it wants to challenge this thinking, taking a bolder step by holding an old-fashioned, real-life auction for brand entertainment media properties at the esteemed art house Christie's in New York City on Jan. 20.
"Nothing replaces the energy and the dynamics of a live auction," says Tere Morris, chief operating officer of BiE. "With a growing array of media properties, companies need to find easy ways to keep track of all branded entertainment inventory," says Rolfe Auerbach, chief executive officer of BiE.
Brand in Entertainment, which has done branded-entertainment deals for film and TV productions with Embassy Suites, Jaguar, Panasonic, Gillette, Hanes and Orbitz, will invite media buyers to bid on exclusive packages on a variety of media platforms during the event.
At the end of November, media buyers and bidders can see an auction preview on the company's Web site. At the event itself, bidders can observe the action on electronic screens at 15 different demographic 'stations' -- for example, women 18-34, adults 18-49 or men 25-54.
Given the complexity and singularity of branded entertainment deals -- some with numerous extensions -- it seems like a daunting task for media buyers to buy into an on-the-spot auction process. Wide-ranging branded-entertainment deals usually take months to complete, deals that require heavy interaction with and tweaking with sellers for completion.
BiE's Morris expects much of BiE's auction efforts to come from "scatter" inventory that producers, studios and networks are looking to sell. "It's a new source of revenue," she says.
Morris adds that many deals could be isolated branded-entertainment opportunities, such as getting a lawn mower or candy product into an individual film, TV show on one a online Webisode. Some 50 projects that Brand in Entertainment controls will be on display, including "Henry's Crime," an upcoming film starring Keanu Reeves.
Many deals for major TV branded-entertainment opportunities can have an additional requirement of spending big media dollars on a network, in terms of traditional TV commercials. BiE says it won't be a problem working with other parties.
"We will be respecting a network's requirements in every conceivable way," says BiE's Auerbach.
Brand in Entertainment says the auction will include opportunities in network television, online/Webisodes, graphic novels, films and plays. The company says it is leveraging relationships with major advertising firms, major studios, record companies and independent production companies, to accomplish the auction.