Sony’s Crackle Signs Advertisers

Crackle.com, the Sony Pictures Entertainment-owned video site formerly known as Grouper, has landed a number of big-name advertisers to sponsor some channels of semi-pro, independent video.

Crackle pitches itself as a place where cautious companies can feel confident their advertisements will not accompany inappropriate material. Honda, Pepsi, Epson, Sony Electronics, Vodafone and unnamed others will trust Crackle’s team of editors to live up to that pledge.

“It’s really validating the new business model,” said Crackle VP of Partnerships Mike Sitrin. “Crackle… is semi-pro, programmed video that brands are comfortable putting their names behind. Nothing is going to pop up and frighten them.”

In fact, advertisers are aligning themselves with channels that resonate with their product branding efforts. For example, Honda is using Crackle’s shorts channel to advertise the Honda Fit, “combining the Honda Fit’s compact humorous attitude with Shorts’ compact whimsical films,” said a statement by Crackle.

Pepsi’s sponsorship of Crackle’s modified vintage TV series corner, called the “Minisode Channel,” includes custom video ads, rich media banners and the printing on Pepsi cans of a URL (throwbackapepsi.com) that leads to the Minisode Channel. The campy classic shows on the channel are meant to fit with Pepsi’s forthcoming “retro” packaging campaign.

Sitrin said mainstream advertisers’ are reluctant to have their products appear on sites that feature un-vetted user-generated-video. “We have a full team of editors that review the content and feature what they deem appropriate,” he said. “We’re finding the big fish are biting. I think these larger brands wanted to be involved in this type of content. It’s very popular with their demographic, but they are not comfortable with aligning with the unknown.”

Sitrin noted ads “travel” with the Crackle clips when they are posted elsewhere. He said Crackle has partnerships with several video sites popular outside the U.S., such as Bebo, the number one video site in the U.K.

Through partnerships with international representatives, Crackle is giving local companies in other countries the opportunity to sponsor channels or otherwise advertise. In a statement, Crackle said it is one of the first video publishers to provide this type of localized advertising in areas — including Mexico and India — that are showing strong demand for “U.S. content.”

The company noted it is working with 24/7 Real media, Adconion, Ozone Media and other ad networks that deal internationally.

“There is demand in international markets for U.S. video content,” said Sony Pictures Television Senior Vice President of Digital Sales Travis Howe in a statement discussing Crackle’s success. “However, with current video penetration levels abroad, there are limited opportunities for local advertisers to be cutting edge with online video advertising.”

Ad sales for Crackle are done through Howe’s unit.

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