Blagica Bottigliero knows a content void when she sees one.
She cut her teeth at some of Chicago’s most vaunted digital companies: Leo Burnett’s Giant Step, Orbitz, Edelman Worldwide’s digital group. She was head of global social media at Motorola before being laid off when Google bought the spun-off Motorola Mobility last year.
Bottigliero, 37, of the South Loop, started a consultancy, called Zlato Digital (a nod to her Macedonian heritage — “zlato” means gold), to help people grow their businesses and make money online.
She noticed a lack of female voices as she watched online talk shows such as “Tech Guy” Leo Laporte’s TWiT.TV, the former Diggnation, Tekzilla on CNET, podcasts from Nerdist and other shows on the former G4 network, now the Esquire Network.
“Lots of the content is men doing quick hits,” she says. “I don’t see enough women from different backgrounds and different walks of life talking about technology. … I don’t see enough ethnicities or different types of life situations — mothers, singles, LGBT.”
That’s why last month she launched the “Ladies Talk Tech” show, broadcast Sundays at 8 p.m. on Google Hangouts on Air.
The format lets women talk informally about the week’s headlines and topics such as the pros and cons of tech-fueled car services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.
For now, Bottigliero is running the show by herself with help from a few contractors.
“It would be fantastic to have a mother from Naperville or a woman who just moved to Chicago to realize the show can speak to them,” she says.
Strength in numbers
Scott Emalfarb, another casualty of ad agency layoffs, saw another void: stories about people who have overcome challenges and found emotional strength.
“There is so much online that sensationalizes people and tragic events — the human factor gets lost,” says Emalfarb, a 31-year-old Ukrainian Village resident who spent the past two years as the online community manager for the Slim Jim brand.
He brought on Tribeca Flashpoint grad Daniel Wetter, 22, as director of photography, and depends on his wife, social worker Lindsay, to be the creative director and strategic thinker for “The Scott Emo Show.”
Emalfarb wants his show to offer “public therapy” by becoming the go-to platform for people who can learn from others’ tragedies and triumphs.
A recent interview featured an MS sufferer who turned to medical marijuana for relief. He’s interviewed boxer Floyd Mayweather, the richest athlete who refuses endorsement deals, and legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Emalfarb hosts a live taping once a month, and had to expand to a 150-seat theater at Stage 773 in August because the shows kept selling out.
“It’s always a feel-good story, and we hope viewers get the information they need to feel better,” he says.
Emalfarb intends to leverage a variety of online revenue streams, including YouTube’s ad network, sponsorships and advertisements.
Independent video shows face an uphill battle getting noticed, especially against video sponsored by traditional TV networks and cable channels, experts say.
One reason is all-powerful data, the kind that companies mine for details about their audience.
“Professional content has metadata associated with it, whereas the independent content often only has a few limited channels of distribution,” says Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates. “Fewer people can find it, so it is difficult to build any type of audience or critical mass.”
But the balance of power may change as evidenced by AOL’s $405 million acquisition of automated video ad server Adap.tv. That kind of partnership may give local advertisers easier access to video content, he says.