From In-Store Branded Content to In-Game Advertising

David Teichner's Channel M Guides Marketers to Hard-to-Reach Consumers

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Who: David Teichner, CEO, Channel M.

Why you need to know him: Mr. Teichner's company, based in Los Angeles, produces in-store branded-entertainment programming and promotions for clients such as GameStop (which operates the EB Games stores), Payless Shoes and My Gym, as well as movie theaters, sports bars and video-game arcades. Channel M recently expanded into in-game advertising.

David Teichner on Channel M's strategy: 'If you look at what we sell right now, it's true media. It's not point of sale. We're advertising things like Dodge and movies that a video-game store like EB Games doesn't sell.'

Credentials: Before joining Channel M in 1997, Mr. Teichner founded and managed Genco Advertising, a collegiate-marketing company.

What types of branded-entertainment projects do you produce for your clients? "We create custom content for retailers. Exclusive content that's appropriate for each venue. A show that will provide entertainment and keep people in the store. Our media guys sell advertising into the show. For GameStop we produce 'EB TV,' a video-game lifestyle, 'Entertainment Tonight'-meets-gamers type of thing. We've been producing that for nearly four years. It's a two-hour show with two main personalities as hosts and guest correspondents and reviewers who take you behind the scenes, show you sneak peeks of games and trailers, and do interviews with game developers or hard-core gamers. We recently did a feature on the band Breaking Benjamin because they're hard-core gamers. A 30-second ad airs during segments. The show gets updated once a month.

"There's a show for Payless Shoes' kids division that keeps [children] entertained while their parents pick out new shoes. We also have a program that runs in mall-based arcades owned by Namco. And for different movie-theater chains, there'll be screens above the box office or concessions stands that we program.

"We also sell advertising into Buzz Times' games in sports bars. It's a huge audience. We run ads in between segments and can place sponsors into the games -- on the felt of the poker table and on the cards themselves. It has to be appropriate, but there are all sorts of things we can do."

What advertisers would you see in a show like 'EB TV'? We've recently had Dodge, Sony Pictures promoting 'The Covenant,' Disney with 'Invincible,' Activision, THQ and Hollywood Records with the band Breaking Benjamin."

How do you know if people are watching the programming? How do you measure viewership? "There are multiple ways: third-party research, a lift in sales, management feedback. At the end of the day, managers are the ones who are watching and listening to the show at every moment. If they don't believe it's valuable, then we've totally failed."

Wal-Mart has generated a lot of attention for its in-store TV network. How does what Channel M produces for retailers differ? "[Wal-Mart] would want to work with their current vendors. If you look at what we sell right now, it's true media. It's not point of sale. We're advertising things like Dodge and movies that a video-game store like EB Games doesn't sell. What we look for on the most part are niche retailers, retailers that you look at and say they have a tough-to-reach demographic. Brands need to look beyond the traditional means of reaching people, especially young men."

Is there a retailer that in-store programming is better suited for? "Anyone who has screens or wants to put up screens [in their stores] is a potential client. Our eyes are always open for it. The consideration is always do they have TVs or do they have the infrastructure? Wearing the production hat always comes first. How do you make the best entertainment for the environment? How is the store laid out, what's the wait time? For EB Games, we were very confident we could produce the best content for them. We saw a huge advertising opportunity for them there. They get young men who are hard to reach and don't consume mass media. What a great opportunity. Arcades are a more teen-male-focused program."

Because you're selling advertising, how does that get split with the retailer or client? "It varies based on what we're delivering, what we're selling. We can't disclose specifics, but typically they're getting a huge percentage. For Payless, we don't sell advertising." (For "EB TV," Electronic Arts doesn't advertise but pays to feature its games.)

Your company has made several new hires lately and is expanding. Which new areas are you getting into? Our growth going forward will focus on getting more media venues, more production deals, and tying into in-game advertising and promotions. On the gaming side, we brought on Walt Doublestein, who spent 10 years at BBDO. He was figuring out the appropriate video-game strategy for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. Since we represent the largest video-game retailer, we said, 'How do you extend the in-store experience into games?' Marketers kept asking us, 'How do you get me into the game?' So we brought Walt on board to lead our in-game strategy both with the publishers and the marketers. To get them into the games and build a program around that. We brought in Rick Flores, who goes around to the different movie studios and will partner a film with the right retailer for in-store sweepstakes or other promotions. He also produces the 'Hollywood Minute,' a behind-the-scenes audio piece that gets picked up by hundreds of radio stations."

So in a way you're competing with in-game agencies like Massive and Double Fusion now? "We view what we do as similar but different. We're building a total package. Doing actual product integration into the game and blowing it out. Just having something in-game is OK, but the real value is if you blow it out with media extensions. That's when you get more bang for the buck. [The other agencies] do more of a media buy -- they get the most impressions in four weeks and pull out of it. But if a game's coming with the right promotion and pushes product off the shelves, [publishers and advertisers] love it."

There is still some confusion as to what branded entertainment is. How do you define it? "Branded entertainment is when a brand ties into the storyline of any form of entertainment including music, movies, games, TV, online. The key is extending and supporting that brand integration in unique ways, such as events, in-store, mobile. The result should be a lasting impression and an emotional connection with the brand."

Are you a gamer yourself? Which ones do you play? I'm not a hard-core gamer. I'm a fan of the sports games. I've always been a 'Madden' fan. My new love is 'Fight Night.' I play once a week. Get a couple hours in."

What's on your TiVo? "'Rock Star: Supernova,' 'Entourage,' 'The Sopranos,' '24' and, embarrassingly enough, 'American Idol.' Also a bunch of kids' shows like 'Dora the Explorer' and 'Jay Jay the Jet Plane.'"

What's on your iPod? "I don't have one. I'm not a music guy. I listen to my XM on the way to work and on the way home and I'm done."

What do you do on your downtime? "It's almost all about the kids [a 2-year-old boy and a 3-and-a-half-year-old girl]. It's spent with my family, playing with the kids."
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