It’s not the first time we’ve featured CAA’s agents in our power lists given their deep reach into the core of the video business. Scott Iason is no exception. Few agents are able to wear many hats and package deals for all platforms, in any context, with brands, or publishers, or talent, but Iason does it all. Iason, who began his career in traditional television, was instrumental in closing a deal between go90 and Shaun White’s “Air and Style,” just one of the deals he had his hand on with go90. For talent like Hayes Grief, Bart Baker and Fousey, Iason structured ambassador deals to help drive awareness around a much-hyped, new-to-market mobile streaming service. He’s also done various deals with publishers like Maker Studios, Hearst, and Playboy on behalf of clients like Matador, Taryn Southern, Fat Jew, among others. Essentially, Iason is knee-deep in deals for CAA.
Here are his thoughts on dealmaking and the state of the business.
VideoInk: What’s the key to making a meaningful, out-of-the-box deal?
Scott Iason: I believe that the most meaningful deals are the deals in which all parties “win” together: a win-win-win deal. Good dealmakers must have the ability to build relationships and trust with clients, brands, and the buyer community while addressing the core needs of all parties.
VI: What’s an example of that kind of deal?
SI: At CAA, I’ve enjoyed establishing relationships with newly launched platforms to create new deal structures and opportunities. I’m proud of the work we’ve done with Verizon’s Go90. We’ve partnered with the team at Go90 to build a large-scale partnership with Shaun White and his Air + Style brand. The brand and the platform matched each other’s objectives. Go90 was looking to partner across various content buckets, including live streaming, endorsement and original series, while Air + Style wanted to continue to grow its brand and experiences with the millennial audience. In addition, we were able to partner some digital native talent including Bart Baker, FouseyTUBE, Hayes Grier, and others, with the platform to help build awareness and engagement for Go90 while allowing talent to extend their footprint in the digital/mobile space.
VI: Agents are often the first call for distributors or content companies, so I’m sure you have a pretty solid lay of the land right now. What’s exciting you most?
SI: Verizon investing in content and furthering their distribution capabilities across the board through deals with major distributors such as AOL, Go90, Hearst and Complex was a game-changer. Verizon is more than a TelCo. They’re distributing, investing in, buying and creating content across all platforms, which is exciting for both creators and consumers.
VI: There’s a lot of content being made but not a lot of tracking of performance. Do you think that is a significant problem or are KPI’s really just “different across all campaigns”?
SI: The biggest issue is measuring success of original digital content. There seems to be a lack of consistency among advertisers and distributors as to how exactly we measure a successful project — be it views, engagements, awards, the content itself, and beyond.
VI: And how do you see publishers responding to that or moving the biz forward in other ways?
SI: There is no one-size fits all and that is the beauty of digital. I’m interested to see how the veteran distributors, such as AOL and Hulu, continue to evolve and change the landscape of the industry while newcomers, such as Rated Red, Seriously and Playboy, bring fresh ideas and content into the mix. It’s important to match creative with the appropriate financial model. TVOD allows the appropriate talent and creators to market and distribute content direct to consumer. SVOD allows for specific content to be seen that would not necessarily fit into a TVOD platform, which widens the creative spectrum for creators and buyers alike. AVOD has been key for brand advertising and branded entertainment. Each model works in its own unique way.
VI: As those business models shake up, what do you think about the role of advertisers in the mix and how does that fare with the trend of influencer-driven campaigns?
SI: There is still not enough premium content available for advertisers on digital platforms. Digital influencers are blazing new innovative business models while reinvigorating traditional ones. We’ve also seen influencers infiltrate Madison Avenue via media deals by creating content with brands that deliver against standard media metrics. On the traditional side, we have seen influencers, like Mamrie Hart, shoot up the New York Times Best-Seller List.
While advertising dollars continue to shift to digital video, TV remains an important medium, as premium content continues to live on traditional TV. TV replacement digital content is still in its nascent phase. We must continue to increase supply to match demand.