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Who Wants To Buy An Ad In Mark Burnett’s New Digital-Media Treasure Hunt?

Mark Burnett is about to pitch two new video series to advertisers – and he still doesn’t know where and when his programming might air.

The popular producer envisions “Finders Keepers” as a sort of treasure hunt taking place across all kinds of digital media. Over the course of 49 days, Burnett proposes to work with advertisers to release a wide assortment of clues in the form of pop-culture trivia in mobile and digital venues. Followers who find and solve the clues will be able to find a reward. “It doesn’t need to live on television at all,” Burnett remarked. His other idea, “Streets of the City,” would ask viewers to use a “tipping” app to show favor to musical buskers looking to win fame and fortune.

He may find sponsors very quickly. Burnett, the reality-series impresario behind such big hits as “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” will be making his presentation at a showcase known as a “Final Front” that starts Thursday and brings together media outlets seeking to strike deals with Madison Avenue heavies including Apple Music, Walgreens, Pepsi, Gatorade, Chobani, FedEx, McDonald’s, State Farm, Hasbro, JC Penney, and Lowe’s.

“I think the days are gone when content creators work in a vacuum, just making things and going to pitch them to a distributor,” Burnett said in a recent interview. Instead, he added, more producers should sign up sponsors early in the process, so they can find appropriate ways for the advertisers to have a presence as different pieces of content related to the concept make their way to various kinds of media.

The “Final Front” is organized by Omnicom Media Group, the large media-buying unit of ad giant Omnicom Group, and gives its clients first crack at projects that are devised specifically for the event. Other media outlets making presentations include Viacom, Sony, Vice, Facebook, Refinery 29, Machinima, Endemol, Complex, and Legendary.

“The ideas have to be exclusive. They cannot be have been seen before in the marketplace, either ‘upfronts’ or ‘newfronts,’” said Claudia Cahill, chief content officer of Omnicom Media Group, referring to two sales events held each year by TV networks and digital-media outlets, respectively. “We have a window on these ideas for a few months, to close these deals.”

Omnicom Media Group, the umbrella organization for Omnicom agencies like PHD and OMD, controls approximately $23 billion in ad spending in North America, according to RECMA, a market-research organization.

Among the deals struck in past editions of the meeting was a pact between Walgreens and NBC for the network’s “Red Nose Day” broadcast; an agreement between Vice and Gatorade for a sports-video series; and an alliance between Chobani yogurt and the PopSugar digital-media outlet,

In years past, media companies would decide what video series they wanted to air, schedule them , and then try to get advertisers to buy multiple ads across schedules. Thanks to a new stream of data about consumer behavior, more sponsors want to place commercials more precisely to win the attention of their most likely customers. To accomplish the feat, executives said, the two sides need to collaborate more closely and much earlier in the process.

Where media agencies once acted as a buffer between advertiser and media outlet, they now should try to facilitate conversation, suggested Jeff Lucas, who oversees ad sales for Viacom outlets. “When you strike a deal to execute, they are there hand in hand with both us and the client to make sure the execution is perfect,” he said of OMG’s efforts.

Omnicom has organized two similar events in past years in a bid to get clients and distributors talking about deals that have become exceedingly more complex. “With all of these streaming platforms coming online, there has been more content in development,” said Cahill. “It really has opened the business in a dramatic way.”

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