Another senior executive at a major media shop also noted that many of the branded integrations in the BiE book are for projects that have not yet been picked up for distribution by a media owner. "If you don't have a distribution channel lined up, how do you understand the value of what the concept will be?" he asked. "Clearly the value will be different if it's a digital platform concept versus a cable or broadcast property."
Another executive noted that networks usually want to be involved in the integration process as well so that they can attach an inventory buy to the agreement. A pre-sold integration "could eliminate a whole category of brands from the show" that don't want be to associated with a competitor, the source said. "So that dynamic gets totally disrupted," the source added.
But the same executive said his shop would be in attendance because some clients are curious. "When something happens and it's a first, clients want to hear about it," the executive said.
For some others, the auction process is a non-starter for branded integrations. Brian Terkelsen, president of connectivetissue, a unit of MediaVest, said, "Like all media, branded entertainment has evolved way beyond a simple commodity, so the auction process seemingly plays to the lesser strategic aspects of sophisticated marketing."
Today, Terkelsen added, integrations are more strategic than tactical. He noted that "strategies and any subsequent execution need to deliver an experience. Getting the viewer involved with the brand or taking action is where we can really drive results for brands. Ideas and data need to be the guideposts, not inventory."
Rose countered that all the winning bids at the auction would be subject to the completion of the parties agreeing to all "final details" of the integration.
"Clients have the ability on the front end to be put in the content process with the writers and the producers," he said. "It's not just a transactional process." And at the end of the day, if those final details can't be agreed to, the parties can walk away. "It has to work for both sides," he said.