The Story of EMOS
I have been asked a number of times, “why would Bill Gates buy a product placement agency”? I feel fortunate that he did, however beyond the agency’s big clients and global infrastructure, a primary reason was “EMOS” the agency’s proprietary data based system. In early 2000 “TiVo” ushered in the new era of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs); at that time, it became clear to me that the field of product placement was going to change dramatically and quickly. All of the major ad agencies felt threatened by DVRs “if they couldn’t successfully advertise around TV programming, then they must incorporate their messaging within the programming”; a host of new placement competitors appeared immediately as the big ad agencies began to scramble to find a ways to provide brand integration opportunities for their clients.
As a counter strategy, I began building a data base system called “EMOS”. EMOS connected the very fluid entertainment industry content production sector i.e. filmmakers, cable & broadcast TV producers, digital content creators, celebrities etc. directly to major media buyers. EMOS took several years to create and perfect. When it was completed it proved to be revolutionary as it was able to identify, aggregate and categorize unproduced future films/TV/digital content etc. before it was produced. Uniquely, EMOS was structured so that media buyers could include the purchase of future brand integration opportunities in their standard media plans. EMOS provided reliable performance metrics from recognized third parties such a Nielsen and ComScore, which was the catalyst media buyers need to act, they began to embrace the system. Combined with its core business of representing major brand clients, EMOS propelled the agency into a new and unique position; it became an acquisition target of the big agencies.
In 2012, recognizing the value of the agency and EMOS, Bill Gates’ company Corbis, purchased both outright. Gates has subsequently sold Corbis while retaining Norm Marshall and Associates and EMOS and rebranding them “The Branded Entertainment Network” (BEN) (bengroup.com). Today BEN is the world leader in supplying Brand Integration opportunities to major media buyers. Along with past employees and those who helped create it, I’m proud of the success of BEN; it reflects its Norm Marshall and Associates and EMOS heritage.
Moving forward, I believe we are presently at an intersection of Entertainment, Commerce and Technology. I have long advocated that beyond its role as pure entertainment, a function of films/TV/digital content is that of a being a media & marketing vehicle. Over the past 10 years, I’ve been fascinated in witnessing the fragmentation of traditional media and the emergence of social media and disruptive technologies as marketplace forces. Today’s technology along with easily available deep data can provide marketers with empirical results from which to measure their media outlays; i.e. being able to measure media spends directly via sales results. Increasingly this new ability is being referred to as “Performance Based Media”; (PBM) it is not a vision of the future, it’s here today. Hopefully, my future endeavors will allow me to explore some creative PBM marketing concepts.