Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Interview with Betsy Green, Media MatchMaker
Today I'm talking with Betsy Green, founder of Media MatchMaker (www.mediamatchmaker.com), and Jim Mahoney, President of the company. Media MatchMaker is an angel-backed firm that is creating an online marketplace for product placements. I caught up with Betsy and Jim to get a better idea of where the company is nowadays.
Ben Kuo: What's the idea behind Media MatchMaker?
Betsy Green: Jim and I go back about 10 years. Jim is an entertainment attorney and former agent, and a TV and film producer. My background is in syndicated programming for Viacom, Kingworld, and Goldwin, and I did local advertising and product placement at Fox. It was at Fox where I was banging my head against the windows, because I could not find contacts and develop business. I wished I had a Match.com for business relationships. I approached Jim to help co-develop, co-structure the firm, and fortunately we joined forces and invested all of our own money—savings, 401K, contacts, relationships, and put everything we got into this because we felt the industry needed this. It's not just TV, it's also film, DVD, digital, mobile, podcasting, web, radio, sporting events, video games—anything that needs advertising support. That's what we did about 2 years ago. We created a demo—a mini site, and knocked on some doors (ie if you built it they will come) and showed it to studios and networks.
Jim Mahoney: We decided to go and get some of the producers online first. We figured if we had the shelf space, we'd go to the brands and have some opportunities. We talked to Fox TV's syndication arm, and they were really behind it big time, and told us there was nothing out there like it. We were pleasantly surprised.
BK: You'd think someone would have done this already.
JM: That's what I thought too. My background was at ICM, as an agent and attorney. I didn't know anything about product placement sponsorships before this. We went to Fox, and they were immediately all over this, because it could save Fox time and effort and money. We also went to Sony, and Warner Bros. We probably have ten different producers that signed on and said if you build this, they will come. The advertisers we went to said that we're behind you. That's when the Tech Coast Angels and Pasadena Angels signed us up.
BG: We closed our funding in June 30th, and opened our offices on July first. We have been building the web site since and pitching customers, and went live in January. We got our first customers in the middle of March, and we're happy to report aht two of our customers matched, negotiated, and closed a deal in four weeks. That process usually takes 4-6 months.
BK: How big are deals typically done through your web site?
BG: Our transactions sizes range from $10K to $100K to $1M, we are really targeting an unserved market—the medium and smaller size brand and TV shows. The big boys already have people servicing accounts directly, we are finding people who are interested in finding new opportunities, and bridging the gap between the little guys and big guys.
JM: Our target is people who are not well served, though we also have the big boys sniffing around.
BG: A relationship with a web system can still help them, because it helps them to see a volume of opportunity. They may have 25 integrations they'd like to be paid upon, which means lots of manpower because it's labor intensive. A web site helps immensely, and allows them to negotiate much faster and reduce time prospecting. People are already at the startling line, and when they match they are ready to make a deal.
JM: What's really helped is Betsy's background in product placement. She knows all of the pitfalls and problems, and implemented solutions and put them on the web.
BK: Are you finding people in the industry are willing to go on the web? The entertainment industry isn't exactly known as being a technology early adopter.
BG: Those that are hungry for deals are embracing the service. The younger people are embracing, and you do have lots of tech savvy people. People here have budgets, deadlines, and if they don't reach their goals they lose their jobs.
JM: This business is a young business, with lots of 30 to 35 year olds—they're pretty tech savvy. What it used to be was a good-old-boy system where you get somewhere, they had a deal with the set decorator or propmaster—however, people have become real wise to this thing and realize there's lots of money to be made, not only in ad sales but also deferring costs of production. The bean counters at the top see that if they can save money or make money there, they won't put up with the old shenanigans.
BK: How far along are you, and do you have customers yet?
BM: We're still populating the site, and adding people each week. One challenge we have is that people in the entertainment industry did not want to share market availability. They didn't know if the competition could see their sites. However, with our site a producer can only see advertising opportunities, and only advertisers can see producer opportunities.
BK: What's the business model for this—any opportunity for revenue sharing?BG: For ease of market penetration, and the path of least resistance we're currently based on a monthly subscription fee, based on the size of the company and the volume of transactions. We're open minded to changing our business model in the future as the market progresses. We're trying to prove ourselves to the market, and will explore percentage deals in the future.
JM: It's easier for both advertisers and producers to buy a subscription service, and not get mixed up with percentages. Our goal this year is to get as many producers and advertisers as we can on the system.
BK: What's your goals for next year?
BM: We're constantly revising the service, based on user feedback, and are upgrading and constantly thinking of new ideas to make the experience better.
BK: Thanks!More information »