Web Site Devoted to Infomercials to Debut Sept. 15

A new Web site devoted solely to selling products using three- to five-minute infomercials will make its debut Sept. 15.

The site, InfomercialPlanet.com, Las Vegas, will use embedded video players so that as soon as a customer arrives at the site, an infomercial will start playing. The customer can then choose from several product categories, and a prominent button below the viewing screen will allow them to order products.

Ben Kalb, a direct response television veteran and president of the venture, is hoping that showcasing the creativity of the DRTV industry will be the main selling point of the site.

Kalb envisions that the site will soon be filled with a series of what he calls “MiniMovieMercials.” MiniMovieMercials are like shorter, jazzed up “storymercials” — dramatic presentations six-minutes-long or less that “engage an audience's interest and sell a product,” Kalb said. A MiniMovieMercial could be a soap opera that uses exercise equipment as a backdrop to a story line, then sells it at the end; or a science-fiction adventure tale that promotes the mop the characters use to clean their spaceship. Kalb said this idea came in part from the Internet, which has sparked a revival of the short film.

“I think this is going to be a snowballing process,” Kalb said. “In the beginning it will take time to get people and marketers interested and excited about the concept, but once they start seeing what is on the site, it will snowball with more shows and more people coming to the site to see creative, inventive and interesting MiniMovieMercials. The whole goal is to get people to the site, to stay there and buy product — and the best way to do that is to make things entertaining.”

Kalb, who owns his own DRTV production company, Ben Kalb Productions, Las Vegas, said he realizes that in the beginning most of the three- to five-minute infomercials will be edited down from a long-form spot. But Kalb hopes that given the free airtime, creative directors and marketers will take advantage of the opportunity to boost a budget to create a special show for the site — just as many directors have done for short-film sites.

Kalb said he doesn't intend to produce infomercials for the site, but might consider doing so if he received requests from clients.

Regardless of his vision for the future content of the site, Kalb is accepting any and all submissions — with some guidelines. The infomercials must not be longer than five minutes and must not contain a call-to-action that elicits a viewer to contact anyone but InfomercialPlanet to make a purchase.

The submission guidelines for the infomercials result from the bare-bones, per-inquiry business model of the site: For every product sold, including shipping and handling, InfomercialPlanet gets one-third and the marketer gets two-thirds. The only other methods of revenue for the site will be banner sales and a $100 surcharge for submitting an infomercial longer than the allotted five minutes. Infomercials longer than six minutes will not be accepted.

All sales — whether by phone, Web or mail — will go through InfomercialPlanet, which will forward the order for fulfillment, along with a client database for further upselling, to the marketer.

“Not even Home Shopping Club and QVC make their client databases available,” Kalb said. “But I feel that upsells and customer relations are vital in this industry, so I want to give the marketer the chance to contact the customer again on their own terms. I don't want to deal with that because we are not concerned with an upsell.”

InfomercialPlanet is not marketing to any specific demographic, nor is Kalb looking for any specific products or price points to offer consumers. He acknowledges, though, that the medium itself and the general call for “more creative and adventurous” infomercials does lessen the chances of getting traditional “yell-and-sell” shows, which most frequently hit the $19.95 price point.

“The Internet buyer is a different animal that is not going to stay around for six minutes of a yell-and-sell,” Kalb said. “I want to get away from the yell-and-sell, and I want to stay away from $19.95 products on this site. We will take them, but I would much rather have higher price points. I don't mean real high price points, but the main reason I want to stay away from $19.95 is because creatively, I am not going to get the quality I am looking for. I will run any product at any price point, but I am really looking for something different.”

InfomercialPlanet will market itself primarily through its parent company, FlixNetwork.com, which makes films and TV programs available for free over a broadband Internet connection. The InfomercialPlanet site will be a subsite of the FlixNetwork, which features other subsites that, among other things, show music videos, documentaries, Latin films and sports. The FlixNetwork sidebar, which provides links to all these sites, will be a constant on the InfomercialPlanet site.

FlixNetwork also has a marketing and investor relationship with StreamSearch.com, a popular Internet audio and video aggregator. Kalb said that this relationship would be fully exploited, with cross-promotion flowing from FlixNetwork and its affiliates back and forth to StreamSearch.

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