Digital media’s rapid rise over the past season isn’t only impacting how broadcast and cable nets deliver their content to viewers, it’s also shaping how they market that content.
This fall, CBS partners with AOL and Mark Burnett Productions for the Internet treasure hunt Gold Rush. The game takes place wholly online, but clues will be found in CBS programs and ads. HBO began promoting the third season of its comedy Entourage by enabling users to interact online with the show’s breakout character, Hollywood agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Meanwhile, FX is promoting the second-season launch of its comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with an online contest calling for users to submit filmed comedy ideas of their own.
Unlike product placement deals on shows like Survivor, CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer said Gold Rush clues found in CBS content will be “reverse engineered,” meaning nothing will be altered or inserted into the content to generate those clues. Rather, questions posed in the online game will simply ask about general plot points or locations on series such as CSI. As the network tries to age down, Schweitzer said its role in Gold Rush is “a great way to get people energized about our new schedule.”
In addition to its so-called “interviews” with over-the-top agent Ari Gold, HBO also partnered with MySpace.com for a contest called MyEntourage, where users can build Web pages based on friendships with three other people. Courteney Monroe, HBO’s senior vp of consumer marketing, said targeting Entourage’s young viewers via the Internet was a no-brainer. “Traditional media vehicles remain the cornerstone of our marketing efforts,” Monroe added. “But when you’re trying to reach these younger demos, digital becomes a more important way of doing so.” MORE