BermanBraun to roll out mass-appeal sites

Looking to use sites like Wonderwall to sell to demos

NEW YORK -- BermanBraun is looking to roll out next year more mass-appeal Web sites like its celebrity site Wonderwall on MSN and build out its sales force to sell to demos across them, co-founder Lloyd Braun said Wednesday.

Speaking during an onstage interview at Webby Connect NYC, a summit on online-branded entertainment, Braun also said the firm will continue "Peter Mehlman's Narrow World" Web series. So far focused on sports, other fields, such as the worlds of celebrity and politics, will be in focus next.

"We're all about brands" online, Braun said. "We have very little interest in doing one-off shows. And we like being in the mass audience business."

In 2010 he expects to roll out at least two more sits with broad appeal intended to reach mass audiences, he told THR. He hinted that lifestyle could be an interesting field and said the firm is open to partnering on the sites like it did with MSN.

Asked how BermanBraun approached the creation of Wonderwall, he said, "We took absolutely nothing for granted." For example, the site's scroll navigation is horizontally- rather than vertically-focused.

"We have three sales executives now and are probably hiring a couple of more," he said when asked about ad sales for the site and future sites.

Asked about new TV projects, he said BermanBraun has "a whole patch of new things in development that we are working on with the networks and cable."

Asked about the inclusion of marketers into the planning of Web content, he said the first priority is to make content compelling. But he likes to include a brand early on to provide input into the development of product integrations.

For example, Palm has been the sponsor for "Narrow World," with product integrations written with Mehlman. For Palm, the total ad cost was cheaper than buying two 30-second spots on popular TV shows, and for his firm the show cost "very little" to produce, according to Braun.

Braun also talked up the value of knowing both the Internet and the traditional TV and film worlds.

"I learned an enormous amount when I was at Yahoo, which put me on par with most of my colleagues 5 years ago in digital -- and many now," he quipped.

The said the benefit showed when he questioned why Yahoo was using narrowly designed pages - only to find out there was no real reason other than that had become the firm's usual approach.

"We all live in bubbles," Braun said. "The mistake people make when they first go program a network is they program it for themselves, which means West LA and New York."