Deca: Online audiences are “tribes”

Deca TV on the future of online content (Momversations/IPG Lab's Content Tuesday)This week as a part of an ongoing webinar series on online content opportunities, the IPG Emerging Media Lab welcomed Michael Wayne, President and CEO of DECA (Digital Entertainment Corporation of America). DECA is not about big splashy production, or name Hollywood talent – instead they are successfully delivering content that is “of the Web, by the Web, and for the Web.” Their programming model is focused on creating information based formats that leverage already established web talent in verticals like Moms and Cooking. We see DECA as a leader in the emerging content space and great partner for brands that are looking to dip a toe or jump head first into the waters of emerging content.

We are asking Content Tuesday presenters to answer a set of questions about their business and the emerging content industry. We think each of these POVs will be a valuable resource as we look to collectively shape best practices and bring solutions to our clients. After the jump, hear from Michael about what DECA is doing in the online content space, and what the company sees for the future of online video.

Q: How is your company different?
A: DECA focuses on building brands around online talent that has aggregated an audience. We like to call our targeted audiences “tribes” and the talent we work with “tribal leaders.” Mom bloggers, food bloggers, YouTube stars, etc. would be good examples. We see sustainable business models around building online communities that have high-quality video and rich content experiences. Our videos are mostly non-scripted and revolve around issues that are topical and informational to that audience. Online sit-coms and dramas are not our thing.

Q: How do you measure success?
A: Simply. If our consumers and clients are happy, we have succeeded. Every client has a different need with a campaign. Some focus on media; others quality of content and brand integration; others PR value. Ideally we will execute a successful campaign for a brand advertiser through a combination of media impressions (views, display, etc.), engagement (comments, forum posts, Twitter, Facebook, low drop-off rates, social media distribution, etc.), PR and high-quality content.

Q: How do you distribute your content?
A: There are three ways DECA distributes its video content: on our owned and operated sites, through our blogger/talent’s sites and through strategic distribution partnerships. For example in the case of Momversation we drive views through, blogs like Heather Armstrong’s and high-trafficked women’s sites like or Yahoo! Shine.

Q:Where is the online video industry heading?
A: Over the last year we have seen an evolution of online video businesses. Pure user-generated content business struggled to dive meaningful revenue. Many changed their business models. A few online studio start-ups that focused primarily on scripted episodic fare weren’t able to raise more money and went out of business. Over the next year or two I believe we will see real business models take hold. We are going through a time similar to the early days of cable television. The MTVs, ESPNs and HBOs of the Internet are in their early stages. Like these cable channels in the early 80s, the companies that are able to convince major brands to work with them consistently will have a great competitive advantage.

Q: How much do brands need to be investing in online video?
A: Online video is growing and traditional media business models are crumbling. All indications point to this accelerating, not reversing itself. Whether brands are spending $10k or $10 million on online video programs, learning how the new landscape works is most important. It shouldn’t be only about ROI on the short-term campaign. In the early 80s brands like American Express and Budweiser made long-term advertising investments in cable channels like ESPN and MTV. As that medium grew they benefited from having early insight into those businesses. Similarly, brands will benefit from investing time, people and dollars early in the evolution of online video.

Ezra Cooperstein is VP, Director of Innovations at Initiative Media.