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Grassroots-focused Deca Cooks Betty Crocker Pact

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The ad market for original online video has been hit hard of late by the recession and an oversaturated market.

But the online video startup firm Deca has scored a spate of successes—particularly with traditional brands—by focusing on aggregating and nurturing grassroots Web talent. The company has unveiled a branded entertainment video program for General Mills’ Betty Crocker on its recently launched property Good Bite, as well as a new service-oriented parenting site called Parents Ask.

Good Bite, which went live in June, compiles recipes and tips from top food bloggers across the Web. The 16 planned Better Crocker videos will feature four Good Bite bloggers discussing favorite holiday recipes with Betty Crocker experts at the company’s test kitchens in Minneapolis.

That deal marks the second major branded entertainment initiative for Good Bite this month.
Currently, Quaker is running a contest among 12 bloggers who are creating unique versions of classic oatmeal recipes. For that deal—which has been valued in the high six-figure range—the companies collaborated on a branded channel on YouTube and are distributing clips across the Google Content Network.

With Good Bite, like Deca’s other online projects, the company focused on finding video producers who were attracting a significant audience on their own—and then helping take them to the next level. Previously the company launched the mommy blogger site Momversation, which is now  sponsored by Target.

“We made a very conscious decision when we started Deca not to do any scripted content,” said Michael Wayne, Deca co-founder and CEO. “They are too unpredictable. And advertisers don’t move that quickly. So instead we’re aggregating great independent voices from different verticals who are really organically growing—and we’re creating very safe places for brands.”

Advertisers said they’ve been attracted to Deca for its ability to combine visual storytelling with the social, interactive aspects of blogs. “They’ve been able to harness the power of the blogging community,” said Sarah Wehrli, account director at Omnicom’s branded entertainment shop Green Room Entertainment. “That’s what’s most attractive.”

“This allows us to start a conversation with our customers,” said Andy Haversack, interactive marketing manager for General Mills.

However, Deca is about to shift gears a bit with ParentsAsk.com. Rather than focus on independent bloggers, the site will consist of video interviews with parenting professionals on topics such as how best to sleep train an infant. “ParentsAsk is a great evolution of our format,” said Wayne. “There are lots of text resources out there, but it’s rare that you get to see and hear experts talk about these issues.”