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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Firebrand Shows Ads The Way MTV Used To Show Music Videos

Imb_firebrand1_2 The dirty little secret that most people who make their living marketing on the Internet will never tell you is that they love watching TV spots.  Of course, it is frustrating how much clients spend on questionably effective television advertising ... and there are a lot of crappy TV ads being produced.  But what if you could collect all the good ones in one place and let people watch them?  My guess is it's not only the marketers that would watch.  People love watching good entertaining advertising.  There are entire television programs dedicated to them.  In the case of Geico's Cavemen spots, some ads are even spawning entire TV sitcoms. 

Imb_firebrand2 YouTube is full of ads that people have put online themselves (as well as those seeded by ad agencies) and collectively those have generated millions of views from people who watch them over and over and pass them along to their friends.  Earlier this week, I got an invite from Chris Abraham to attend the press unveiling for a new service called Firebrand TV yesterday in NY.  Unfortunately, I could not make the event ... but in reading about the site and what it hopes to offer I think it's worth every marketer's attention.  The reason is because from the limited information out there through videos and demos, Firebrand is trying to become an advertising on demand entertainment platform.  Their promotional video promises to serve up "advertising as content" and only feature the best ads.  Check out the video below:

Here are a few reasons why I love the idea of Firebrand and think it may become successful:

  1. Aggregating all great commercials in one place is a long overdue idea.
  2. Assuming it will allow embedding and sharing, this will be a great way to share ads virally (something people love to pass along to each other)
  3. The international ad section will be huge, as lots of the best, funniest, and raunchiest ads never make it on air in the US
  4. The site has a built in revenue model ... what advertiser wouldn't pay to get their ads seen by people who are actively looking to watch them? 
  5. Short TV ads and movie trailers are perfect for mobile consumption.  The mobile access element of Firebrand has lots of potential.

These are just a few quick observations on what the site could do based on my very slim understanding of the site through their promotional materials.  The site officially goes live on October 22nd, though Chris has promised I'll be on the private beta so I can share a more detailed review once I have a chance to play around with the site for real.  In the meantime, definitely add it to your list of sites to watch.

Further Reading: Firebrand TV's Social Media Press Release


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Cheers! Thanks so much for this fantastic coverage. Yes, it should be quite good.

Rohit, great assessment. I'll add one other thing: unlike YouTube or some of the other video sites, you can actually narrow down the types of commercials you're looking for – by brand, timeframe, country, etc. - and interact with them. It’s a much more user-friendly and robust system that puts the viewer in control - which is exactly what traditional advertising doesn't do.

This should be exiting.

This so reminds me of the movie Demolition Man where all the radio songs are old commercials.

But I still don't quite get this. So, is Firebrand going to have to run ads that say, hey, come here and watch these ads? Besides people in the industry, I thought most people are trying to avoid seeing ads (tweet from @Armano last night - that's what I got a DVR for).

So, hey, it is great for us ad people but how much will the public get into it and will enough of the public get into it to support it?

Sounds like a great idea with lots of promise.

I like the idea of aggregating all great commercials in one place and the international scope. Great content is great content even if its promoting/advertising a product or brand.

The only thing that raised a flag for me was your 4th point: The site has a built in revenue model ... what advertiser wouldn't pay to get their ads seen by people who are actively looking to watch them?.

a revenue model is great, we all need to make money, but the potential to muddy the waters exists as advertisers can simply pay to get their ads front and center on Firebrand, which doesn't necessarily mean its a great ad with great content which as I understand it is the point of the Firebrand site/platform.

Herb - I think people are avoiding irrelevant ads. If there was a place to grab the latest ads on something you are actually shopping for, I think lots of people would use it.

Harrison - Great point that I was also thinking about. Some of the advertisers with the deepest pockets also end up producing the crappiest ads. It will be interesting to see if Firebrand can keep the quality of their "content" high when faced with big advertisers wanting to pay to play.

"Cavemen" is the latest in the ever declining wasteland of television. It's so bad the Washington Post, hardly a braintrust, is poking fun at it with an absurd list of commercial to TV show spin-offs.

"but the potential to muddy the waters exists as advertisers can simply pay to get their ads front and center on Firebrand"

I don't know the answer to your question but I do know that book publishers actually PAY to place books in various places of a store -- paying more for the window, main tables, and featured areas. Wow! Who would have guessed?

I also hear they do that at the Supermarket, too! Companies pay premiums to make sure their products are featured on the best shelves! Wow!?

And, that the Academy Awards is not a meritocracy but is in fact directly associated with promotion, publicity, relationships, and for political and strategic reasons! Gasp!

OK, I guess I couldn't be even remotely more snarky, but you see what I mean? How "pure" does this all need to be?

I mean, they're commercials... they wear their agendas on their cuff-linked sleeve!


It looks real promising, I agree. I would be interested in a single place to watch ads as well.

There's been various attempts to do this in the UK where interactivity capabilities were 1st introduced about 10 years ago.

It might have been too early, and Firebrand looks a whole lot better funded, but those who tried a general multi-brand interactive advertising platform, as opposed to the success of individual interactive ads, such as zipTV, failed.

However, the whole youtube web-video meme hadn't taken off then, where advertisers now understand better: extended programming, super-distribution and the mass of potential in terms of technology, ideas, tracking and ROI.

"The future will be personal"

Yours kindly,

Shakir Razak

regarding brands with deep pockets: there is a beautiful social element at work here. a powerful but simple rating system. a brand can spend a fortune to get their spots seen a lot. but if this model is right, CMOs will soon figure out that their money is best spent on making better ads.

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