Conde Nast preps video channels to spur revenue from ads co-produced with brands

Conde Nast Britain is launching dedicated video channels for titles such as Vogue and GQ to populate its inventory with branded films and quicken efforts to become less reliant on display ads.

Co-creation is the name of the game in the publisher’s attempts to convince brands to spend more money on its videos. While it will continue to nab advertisers with its sizeable display inventory, Conde Nast wants its partners to fund and help it produce more original content.

Dedicated channels, developed under the Conde Nast Video banner, will host these short-to-medium length films for the media owner’s Vogue, GQ, Glamour and Wired brands.

The Vogue channel launches first with the premier of ‘Vogue Presents ‘The Minions’ today (22 June) which has been created for Universal Pictures. Presented by Vogue International editor Suzy Menkes, the film features interviews with fashion designers such as Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, and Giles Deacon, discussing how the Minions cartoon characters inspired them to create their latest garments.

Viewers will see ads ahead of the films they watch as well as around the player with advertisers able to link the placements with what is being show on the respective YouTube channel. Ads will not be served programmatically to the dedicated channels and the media owner declined to say if this would change later down the line.

Wil Harris, head of digital at Conde Nast Britain, said the latest phase of its video play would allow for “genuine co-creation” with brands. Much of the publisher’s co-creative efforts to date have fuelled its native advertising and Conde Nast Video’s attempt to replicate these ties for its own films shed light on how it wants to push its premium audiences at scale.

“A lot of the time video within commercial formats cannot be very deep. We’re really trying to look at deep qualitative data [from the video] that can give us interesting insights and help us to build better content going forward,” said Harris.

“The fact we put such an emphasis on co-creation of content for our commercial offering is of reflection of the fact that mobile content works better than ads”, said Harris. Indeed, Conde Nast is banking on its social media channels to do the heavy lifting when it comes to pulling in traffic to the site in recognition of how the ubiquity of mobile is splintering traffic sources.

To ensure the branded videos permeate through the myriad of channels, the publisher is embracing new metrics. It has already started selling ads on a cost per day basis, which is primarily used for advertisers looking to maximise their share of voice around a particular campaign. Tests are also underway to look at how it monetises different sub-sets of users with ads being served on a first visit of the day or mobile visit of the day basis for example.

Data on how people watch the videos is being collated to inform future films, Conde Nast’s mobile strategy and the user experience across all its sites. Conde Nast Video surveys can be launched on the publisher’s sites to find out what readers want should it hit a brick wall when developing the concepts, while the films’ performance against other videos and editorial is also being monitored.

“We don’t have a lot of data to know how video performance compared to editorial and social but its something we’ll be looking at very closely in the coming weeks,” said Harris.

“Were really trying to understand usage patterns that are distinct to video as well as other types of content. It’s looking at whether people on desktop just sit and watch multiple things in a row or whether people on mobile will just watch one thing and then dip and out more frequently.”

The clamour for data highlights the wider search by publishers to find a trading currency capable of proving deeper engagement around its content. One such attempt is the Financial Times’ much-discussed cost-per-hour model, which Harris said was interesting though admitted Conde Nast had no immediate plans to adopt.

“[CPH] is a very clever way to slice up inventory and I really like it from an intellectual perspective but I’m not yet convinced that it’s what people want to buy but I am open to be convinced differently,” said Harris. “There are lots of different ways that you can sell things that are more interesting than just giving [impressions]. CPH is a good one but is not the only one.”

The publisher’s video push in Britain is part of wider push to elevate the media’s role in its advertising offering. Conde Nast Germany has built a creative studio that pushes video, while in Russia it will soon launch video channels for five of its brands – Vogue, GQ, Tatler, Glamour and Allure.

Harris said: "The balance between scale and premium is always a delicate one. I think that video is an incredible opportunity for a publisher to differentiate themselves from the mass of content on the web and make themselves more premium.”

The Conde Nast Video initiative is led by Danielle Bennison-Brown who joined from i-D magazine earlier this year.

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