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Poptent’s user-generated commercials undercut expensive ad agencies

Wynewood-based Poptent, a social network that connects businesses with advertising and marketing creatives, might just turn the video advertising industry on its head. Back in 2007, Chief Marketing Officer Neil Perry, who’s worked in marketing as a senior leader at McDonald’s and as Vice President of Marketing at Monster.com, realized that creating high-cost video advertising […]

Poptent's assignment board shows a handful of the available commercial projects, most of which start at a $5,000 payout.


Wynewood-based Poptent, a social network that connects businesses with advertising and marketing creatives, might just turn the video advertising industry on its head.
Back in 2007, Chief Marketing Officer Neil Perry, who’s worked in marketing as a senior leader at McDonald’s and as Vice President of Marketing at Monster.com, realized that creating high-cost video advertising campaigns in a universe of user-generated content just didn’t make sense.
“[We] produced a bundle of commercials and I got famaliar with how expensive commercials could be. I knew there could be a better way,” he says.
Three years after launching, Poptent has built a community of 14,000 members—climbing at about 500 users per month—comprised of professional and semi-professional videographers and ad creators looking to break into the advertising industry and make some cash doing it. The company has produced 65 assignments for national advertisers like Nestle, Anheuser Busch, Ben & Jerry’s and TurboTax.
Part of that growth is for the company’s affordability. In the world of marketing, Perry says, a 30 second spot might cost on average about $350,000, not including talent. Poptent campaigns start at $32,500, the cost of one video ad and the technical backend to place a brand on the site. Each additional ad costs a business $7,500. A company could purchase more than 40 viral videos from Poptent for the cost a single traditional advertisement. “The next time you need video, you don’t have to pay a national agency an arm and a leg,” he says.

For Poptent’s community members, it’s a chance to show off their talent and add to their reels. For businesses utilizing the service, it’s a way to vet hundreds of user-generated, viral advertisements that they choose to purchase for use online or on national television. Usually, 30 to 50 ads out of an average of 300 pass Poptent’s first round of cuts before being sent off to advertisers for approval.
The process is simple. Poptent receives an assignment from a brand and it is posted on the social network with instructions, branding and stock footage. Based on negotiations with a particular brand, users can vie to win a pay-off starting, usually, at around $5,000.
About 90 percent of the advertisements are used online, though an occasional ad makes it to national television. “A number of brands really want to see if we can come up with something viral. When they go national agencies, they aren’t perfectly suited for that,” Perry says. “Our creators really understand that space a lot better than an ad agency would.”
And often, brands buy up a handful of videos produced on the site. Perry says that on average, about two or three videos are purchased. Coors Light bought six, Snickers, three, and New Line Cinema purchased 10 videos in each of the company’s recent assignments.
Poptent attracts new creative talent by participating in the freelance video conversation online. It first tracked down top users on video sharing sites like YouTube and Metacafe, enabling it to spread its vision in that space. The company attracts brands by pitching to Fortune 500 companies at conferences and with traditional sales tactics.
So, how has reception been?
“Many of the larger companies we’ve contracted have come back and asked to do more assignments,” Perry says. Anheuser Busch just completed its fifth assignment. Proctor & Gamble has three under its belt. And Calloway Golf is working on its third.
Many more to come, we suspect.

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