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Condé Nast positions its video offering as a respite from brand safety crises

By Andrew Blustein, Reporter

February 27, 2019 | 5 min read

Advertisers flock to platforms like Facebook and YouTube for their extensive reach and mounds of data. Condé Nast is saying they have all that and more.

Paul McCartney on Wired's video series Answer the Web's Most Searched Questions

Paul McCartney on Wired's video series Answer the Web's Most Searched Questions

In December 2017, the legacy publisher launched Condé Nast Prime, a suite of cross-platform video content. The company has since been trying to educate the marketplace on how­ – for a slight premium – advertisers can avoid the next brand safety crisis.

Scott Saperstein, vice-president of video sales at Condé Nast, told The Drum that when a brand safety crisis hits, advertisers come looking for a place where customers engage with content at a high level and look to deal with publishers that have strong targeting capabilities.

That’s where Condé Nast Prime comes in. Through the offering, Condé Nast controls both the content and the sales process, as the company maintains exclusive rights to sell inventory beyond just its owned-and-operated channels and into other outlets like OTT and YouTube.

Saperstein said about 40% of video distribution comes through YouTube and around 30% comes through owned-and-operated sites, with the rest going through various syndication channels.

Over 20m people subscribe to Condé Nast’s slew of brands on YouTube. At a premium, advertisers can buy directly from Condé Nast instead of from the Google-owned video platform, guaranteeing they’re buying against brand-safe content.

But while the content itself may be safe, the comment section still isn’t.

Though brand safety crises are nothing new for YouTube, its most recent bout with it saw advertisers flee the platform over concerns of pedophiles slyly using the comment section to communicate with one another.

Saperstein said the goal of Condé Nast Prime isn’t to drive traffic to its owned-and-operated channels, but rather meet consumers where they view content most. Since Condé Nast will continue to leverage its relationship with YouTube, Saperstein emphasized there are stringent protocols put in place to monitor comment sections.

“The biggest issue that Google has, and we have, is just the volume of content that lives on the platform. We have over 20 channels on YouTube, and we get a tremendous amount of views and comments every day… That safety protocol really helps us keep everything within our channel, particularly in the comment section, very safe for our advertisers,” said Saperstein.

The safety protocol has four levels: automated negative keyword screening, moderation of anything that may have slipped through, approval queues for content that may stir strong reactions, and viewer moderation.

Saperstein said that while it’s hard to compete with the global scale of platforms like Facebook and Google, Condé Nast has been building out its targeting capabilities as it sits on a trove of first-party data.

“Whether that's web or video, we're able to utilize that first-party and a lot of our third-party data partners to really robustly target the way clients and agencies want to target. That combination makes it a very symbiotic relationship. [The platforms'] distribution combined with our brand-safe content and targeting capabilities really is a win-win for our clients,” said Saperstein.

According to ComScore, Condé Nast is the top brand in YouTube’s lifestyle category among millennials for unique viewers and video views. Engagement has increased by 19% year-over-year to 14 minutes per view.

Advertising opportunities on Condé Nast Prime include pre-roll, mid-roll and branded content. Saperstein emphasized the high share of voice for brands, as videos less than 10 minutes long will just run a pre-roll spot. The average Condé video is just over eight minutes.

Condé Nast houses the following titles: Allure, Architectural Digest, Ars Technica, Backchannel, Bon Appétit, Brides, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious, Glamour, Golf Digest, GQ, Pitchfork, Self, Teen Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W and Wired.

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