Conde Nast touts digital video lineup with ‘TV-like scale’

Conde Nast's 2017 NewFronts presentation focused heavily on video.

In keeping with one the key themes at NewFronts this year, Jim Norton, chief business officer and president of revenue at Conde Nast, called out 'fake news', 'alternate facts', as well as emphasize how the traditional publisher's output can be considered in the same vein as TV.

On Tuesday (May 2), Norton bemoaned the murky digital supply chain to the hundreds media agency executives gathered and explained how Conde Nast became tag certified last week, and that above trio of concerns are in stark contrast to the publisher's own stable of premium content.

“A brand-safe environment and quality content must be the currency on which our industry trades,” he added.

In addition to its 22 legacy brands, Conde Nast is also tapping into what it calls next generation storytellers – it even has a new campaign called Next Gen – while it also reimagines existing brands like Teen Vogue, which Norton said is increasingly delivering cultural impact, like Lauren Duca’s viral op-ed on Donald Trump gaslighting America.

In fact, Teen Vogue’s coverage of the Women’s March in Washington earlier this year added 1m social followers to its coffers.

But Conde Nast is also delivering content from these so-called next generation storytellers in the form of The Scene, Vanity Fair’s The Hive, which explores the impact of politics on pop culture, and Bon Appetit’s Healthyish.

The Scene in particular has more than 100m views every month on Facebook video, said Lisa Valentino, chief revenue officer at Conde Nast Entertainment.

“Our users are content addicted,” Norton added, perhaps unfortunately.

Nevertheless, he may have something of a point as Conde Nast says it reaches 1-in-3 men, 1-in-2 women and 70% of millennials, and this combined audience has $2.2tn in spending power.

And in what is perhaps another NewFronts theme this year, Conde Nast said it is seeing the most growth in video, a media format it is moving full speed ahead with.

In fact, Dawn Ostroff, president of Conde Nast Entertainment, said the brand is producing feature films now, including a recently released film, Granite Mountain – its third – which is based on a GQ story about Arizona firefighters.

In addition, the Old Man and the Gun is now in production based on a New Yorker article, starring Robert Redford and Casey Affleck, she added.

Conde Nast also has five TV series on the air or in production, including Netflix’s Last Chance U, as well as a scripted VR show called Invisible.

What’s more, Ostroff said Conde Nast has had 700 videos top 1m views each in the last year alone with a total of more than 4.5bn views overall in 2016. And, according to ComScore, Conde Nast has 19.9m unique video viewers, which puts it just behind the three-biggest TV networks.

Indeed, according to Valentino, many of Conde Nast’s “blockbuster series” deliver “TV-like scale”.

Vogue’s 73 Questions, for example, translates to a 1.6 Nielsen rating and Wired’s Google Autocomplete translates to a 1.4 rating, which Valentino said is in line with primetime network shows.

Conde Nast’s lineup also includes shows like Back to Back Chef, Kids Try and The Resistance and it is offering up something called Hits Predictor, which Valentino said can help advertisers identify viral hits before they start to trend.

And, of course, the brand also has its in-house agency 23 Stories and a data platform called Spire that offers audience targeting and “campaign optimization” and is powering three “next-generation products” Valentino said are video-led, mobile-first and engaging, as well as vertical, shoppable and interactive.

And, according to Ostroff, Conde Nast also has a digital video incubator called the Big Script, as well as a new as-of-yet unnamed VR incubator, and it is coming out with documentaries like Joe’s Violin, which was nominated for an Oscar, as well as Generation Us with Morgan Spurlock.

See here for more reporting from NewFronts.