If you’re an advertiser that wants to reach a younger audience, Condé Nast wants you to know that TV is not the place.
“A new ‘Prime Time’ has emerged and it’s not TV, it’s Condé Nast,” Pamela Drucker Mann, the publisher’s chief revenue and marketing officer, said at its NewFronts presentation, held at chef José Andrés’ new food hall.
This so-called “new Prime Time” was the theme of the event and Drucker Mann pitched it hard, noting along the way that Condé has “transformed from a publisher into a global media company.” The new global chief executive officer Roger Lynch was sitting in the audience, but being only a few weeks into the job, wasn’t part of the presentation.
“We know there’s more content today than ever before, everyone knows next-gen consumers have cut their cords, but we lost some things along the way,” Drucker Mann said. “We lost things like transparency, and how about viewability, and what about quality? Some would argue that there’s actually a scarcity of great content.”
Condé is hoping to fill this purported void for advertisers, with even more video verticals to go alongside popular series like, Vogue’s “73 Questions” and Vanity Fair’s “Lie Detector Test.” The company pushed the recently launched “Go Ask Anna,” where Anna Wintour answers recorded questions from the public. Wintour even made an appearance in a mock set of her office to answer some rehearsed questions from Condé editors planted in the audience, like Glamour’s Samantha Barry. GQ is also launching a video channel for sports, and there are 175 pilots in development, including a couple for GQ, Vogue and Bon Appétit.
While most of this increased video content is happening with Google’s YouTube, a platform that is still struggling with oversight of violent and hate content, Drucker Mann assured the audience that Condé “controls all of the content on our YouTube channels.” Condé has 27 million subscribers across its YouTube channels.
Overall, the company is making a push into longer video content. Oren Katzeff, the new president of Condé Nast Entertainment, said longer videos are actually watched by more people and have higher rates of engagement than shorter-form video. He cited the average 56-minute sessions viewers have with Bon Appétit’s cooking videos and called the viewer habit “TV-like.” So Condé’s videos are apparently like, but also better than, TV. Drucker Mann boasted that Condé is actually growing faster than NBC and Viacom, with total viewership up 83 percent year-over-year. But the company still has quite a ways to go if it wants to catch up in overall viewers. Condé said it had 14 billion views globally, while Viacom has almost 7 billion minutes of video consumed every month.
One thing Condé did try to push is what it’s dubbed “Prime Placement,” where brands can work in their products to Condé-produced videos. Sounds a lot like “product integration,” something the TV industry is pretty familiar with. Nevertheless, Condé showed clips of “73 Questions” where celebrities worked in questions for Google Voice products and the Bon Appétit show “It’s Alive,” which shoots on location in different cities, meaning municipal tourism money is behind it. A new partnership with Nielsen around Prime Placement is said to be offering measurable performance of a brand’s placement within a video.
While Condé’s magazines were not any part of the presentation, the company did make sure to boast of its “unparalleled access” to celebrities, something that is undoubtedly tied to its core titles Vogue and Vanity Fair, and even Architectural Digest. So how do the editors of those titles, beyond Wintour, fit into Condé’s new position as not a publisher, but a “media company” fighting alongside all the major TV networks?
Katzeff referred to the editors as Condé’s “homegrown talent” and said the company houses “the next generation of influencers.”
But will they all become YouTube stars? They may want to try if they want to stay at Condé. As Drucker Mann put it: “[Condé is] the new Thursday night, and we’re always on.”
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