TV Upfront

TBS Promoting Facebook Ads as Part of Upfront Package

Everson: 'This Is The Beginning of What Facebook Plus TV Can Look Like'

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Even as its stock price continues to tumble, falling to $31 on the Nasdaq at the close of trading Tuesday, Facebook is busy exploring new revenue options. Today it's announcing an arrangement with TBS in which the network will bundle Facebook ads with its own TV and digital inventory to sell as a single package to promote branded content.

The deal with TBS marks the first time that Facebook has partnered with a network to package its inventory with its own, according to Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP-global marketing solutions. It's not the first sign of a social platform looking to cash in on the social-TV phenomenon -- last week Twitter and ESPN announced a deal to conceptualize and sell branded campaigns around tentpole sports events like the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals. Facebook will sell its own inventory separately in its arrangement with Turner.

Carolyn Everson
Carolyn Everson

The partnership will promote branded three- to five-minute comedy "shorts" developed by DumbDumb, the digital-production company launched by former "Arrested Development" co-stars Will Arnett and Jason Bateman. The company has previously worked directly with brands like Old Navy, Orbit gum, and Denny's, for which it recently produced an unscripted series that featured "Saturday Night Live" alum Dave Koechner interviewing fellow celebs in a Denny's booth.

DumbDumb, which is backed by the multimedia-entertainment studio Electus, a division of IAC, has committed to doing as many as six shorts featuring famous comedians in Messrs. Arnett and Bateman's circles for TBS.com. The shorts can also be distributed on the brands' sites, YouTube channels, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. (Representatives from Turner say they're platform-agnostic when it comes to how the content is viewed.)

In the package that TBS has been presenting to advertisers since its upfront, brands can opt to promote the video DumbDumb produces for them through TV spots featuring an abbreviated version of the video on shows like "Conan" and "Family Guy," through digital buys across Turner properties like Teamcoco.com, Adultswim.com and NBA.com, and also on Facebook.

Ms. Everson said part of Facebook's role in the campaign is to draw on the platform's massive reach and target fans of the brand and DumbDumb's stable of talent, as well as other users who might be deemed to have an affinity for the advertiser or the content. Ms. Everson declined to comment on how the ad packages would be structured, but she did note that "sponsored stories" -- or ads with a social layer that tell users when their friends have liked or otherwise engaged with a brand -- with embedded video will likely be a facet.

"In our mind," Ms. Everson said, "we believe that we should capitalize on the social footprint in and around the media content that consumers love and that they consume on Facebook."

TBS hasn't signed a deal with an advertiser to buy and promote a DumbDumb video since its upfront earlier this month, according to Donna Speciale, president of Turner Entertainment and young-adult ad sales. But she noted that Turner had chosen to loop Facebook into the TBS offering because of its massive audience and the fact that marketers had been clamoring for a way to integrate a social dimension into the TV and digital buys they run through the network.

"This is what the marketers have been asking for, so we're making a huge leap that [their buy] is going to end up being all three components," Ms. Speciale said.

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