Mike Sobol, ContentBLVDBy MIKE SOBOL, CONTENT BLVD CO-FOUNDER AND CMO

ELEVATOR PITCH

We make it dead simple for brands to get their products placed inside the content their target consumers already enjoy on YouTube, TV, films and more.

PRODUCT/SERVICE DESCRIPTION

Content BLVD is the first marketplace where advertisers and content creators can meet to get product placement deals done with just a few clicks. Brands simply list the products they want to promote and creators offer to feature those products in their content. Brands choose the offers they like and ship the product to the creators. We help track the performance of every placement. What used to take hours and days of research, negotiation and logistics now takes minutes.

Because interruptive ads like TV commercials, website pop-ups and video pre-rolls don’t work like they used to, brands want to get their messages integrated inside the content instead.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to buy-and-sell product placements like traditional ads. There’s no infrastructure to support it—no standard ad units, no standard pricing, and no single place to find available inventory. As buyers and sellers, advertisers and creators are struggling to find each other and work together efficiently, and that’s why we’re building Content BLVD.

FOUNDERS’ STORY

A few years ago, I was introduced to Dan Ripoll, our co-founder and CEO. Dan was developing a new project and I joined him to help grow it. We ended up building a business that in just a couple of years earned over $550,000 helping brands integrate content onto blogs. During that time, we assembled a strong team that’s proven its ability to work together and execute a plan. As a team dedicated to lean startup principles, it didn’t take long for us to discover a much bigger opportunity.

Talking with countless advertisers and their agencies, one consistent need emerged: Companies want to get their products integrated into content their target consumers already enjoy, no matter the medium. They didn’t care if it was blogs, YouTube, TV, or something else, they just wanted high quality impressions—something they can’t get from traditional ads. So we decided to tackle a much larger issue—helping brands get product placements everywhere.

MARKETING/PROMOTION STRATEGY

With a two-sided marketplace, we knew we would have to get a lot of buyers and sellers together around deals they could agree on. So instead of opening up to a wide array of brands and creators doing all sorts of product placements, we’re launching with one specific deal type—beauty product giveaways on YouTube. There are thousands of YouTube channels that focus on beauty products, and many PR firms that specialize in beauty, too.

Within our first three weeks, we already have over 80 YouTube channels signed up with a total reach of over 12 million viewers through cold email outreach alone. On the agency side, of the 62 we already have in the pipeline (who wanted to talk further after an initial email), 14 are trialing the marketplace with 40 products listed. We will have over 100 products listed before the end of March.

YouTubers are already asking about posting videos on our behalf to promote Content BLVD, and PR agencies are asking about additional product verticals and different media, like television. The plan is to gain traction with this specific deal type, and leverage those users, product features, and media reach to expand into new, closely related segments.

In addition to our sales outreach, we will launch an affiliate referral program, and take advantage of our deep knowledge and skill in driving traffic through SEO and content marketing.

Content BLVD Marketplace

MARKET OPPORTUNITY

We’re taking advantage of two powerful trends. The first is the rise of YouTube as a mainstream media channel. The second is the trend away from ads that interrupt the viewing experience to ones that integrate into it, like product placements. Product placement spending in the U.S. will reach $7.2 billion by 2016. We’re moving fast to capture (and help grow) as much of that market as possible, beginning with YouTube.

HOW WE’RE UNIQUE

While there are a number of networks and agencies already in the space attempting to connect brands with creators, none of them address certain key requirements to help the product placement process scale.

PR agencies in particular are in a lot of pain trying to get their clients highly engaging, targeted exposures without buying each placement. So we sought to help them first with product giveaways. No other solution offers giveaways as a core offering because of their business models. We plan to expand beyond product giveaways, but we will use this market segment to grow our user base first.

Second, the current players are focused on providing more agency-like high touch experiences, something we’ve found both of our user types don’t need or want. While some platforms do provide self-serve options, they still create hurdles to getting deals done. Our super simple process is a breath of fresh air to both YouTubers and the PR agencies who are trying to find them.

BUSINESS MODEL

We’re charging a monthly listing fee of $299 for each product brands and agencies want to keep visible in the marketplace. The marketplace is free to creators who want to publish their own profile for brands to see and to browse product listings. We intend to capture a share of revenue for paid placement deals in the future, as well as premium features.

CURRENT NEEDS

We are raising $600,000 in Seed funding for product development and user acquisition, $200,000 of which is already committed.

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Content-BLVD-logoHEADQUARTERS: Los Angeles

WEBSITE: www.contentblvd.com

FOUNDERS: Dan Ripoll, Mike Sobol

INVESTORS: Eric Chen, Anthony Edson, Jesus Aguilar, Tom Juda, Charles Sheedy, Alonzo Sexton, Boomtown Boulder Accelerator

YEAR FOUNDED: 2012

TWITTER: @ContentBLVD

LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/content-blvd

ANGELLIST: angel.co/content-blvd

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/ContentBLVD

CROWDFUNDER: crowdfunder.com/content-blvd