Betawave Taps Raven for Web Series

NEW YORK Ad network Betawave has tapped former Disney Channel star Raven Symoné to headline an original Web series centered on fashion.

The upcoming show, “Raven Symoné Presents,” is the first of two original series that will anchor Betawave’s video-distribution and content network, which the company is calling Betawave TV. Betawave — which up until January had been known as GoFish — plans to package and distribute a collection of kids- and parents-friendly programs ranging from old episodes of the 1990s Fox animated series Bobby’s World to the 1960s classic Speed Racer, across its network of partner sites.

That network includes more than a dozen smaller properties, including the kids social-networking platform WeeWorld, as well as the virtual dress-up community Cartoon Doll Emporium. In total, Betawave reaches 25 million unique monthly users, according to company executive chairman Jim Moloshok, though initially Betawave TV will roll out to just 6 million users.

Moloshok said that Betawave TV advertisers can opt to run traditional video spots, though the bigger opportunity lies in product integration. With “Raven Symoné Presents,” brands could opt to have their products showcased in episodes. And theoretically, such campaigns might be extended beyond the series, as Raven Symoné could make appearances as a fashion-savvy avatar in one of Betawave’s virtual world partners.

Besides the Raven project, Betawave is planning to launch a celebrity-themed series called “Live From the Red Carpet.”

According to Jeff Malmad, director of digital media at MediaCom, there is an opportunity for Betawave to make inroads in the kids space, which, until recently, hasn’t been served well by the online ad network model. “They’ve found a niche,” he said. “And I like that it is video and virtual worlds. They are offering up a variety of  content offerings, and that makes life easier for advertisers.”

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