Viacom wants advertisers to know that fragmentation in media is no longer a negative.
“We’re embracing fragmentation,” Sean Moran, Viacom’s head of ad solutions, said at Viacom’s NewFront presentation, “and using it to drive your business.”
Case and point, the expansion of its recent $340 million acquisition Pluto TV, a free and ad-supported digital live TV platform. Viacom is adding a selection of content, to be shown marathon-style, from its networks BET, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, and also partnering with CNN, BBC and Major League Soccer to host their channels as well. Executives touted the platform as the best place for advertisers, citing “passive” viewing habits of a younger demographic that sees ad-completion time nearing 100 percent.
Moran also noted that in the year since Viacom Digital Studios officially launched, the company has hit 3 billion social impressions a month across its brands and with the integration of Pluto TV, that number is set to hit 5 billion.
But most of the pitch focused, as last year, on Viacom’s access to the younger side of the U.S. Colleen Fahey Rush, Viacom’s chief research officer, told the audience of marketers that the company has not only the “most diverse” audience when it comes to premium video, but also reaches 80 percent of people aged two to 11, so the sentient Gen Z crowd.
The company also pushed its access to the 13- to 24-year-old demo and said it now has 883 million followers across social platforms and across brands, where 6.7 billion minutes of video are consumers every month, and that MTV’s VMA Awards was one of the most socialed events of the year. Given its popularity, MTV is partnering with Twitter on a new venture, which Viacom let the platform reveal at its own NewFront presentation the same evening (see below).
Even though Viacom trotted out some young “influencers” that its developing shows and digital content with, the highlight of the presentation seemed to be 54-year-old comedian David Spade, who managed to get the crowd laughing. He’s getting his first late-night talk show with Comedy Central, to air weeknights after “The Daily Show” — which is developing a slate of six new shows that execs were relatively mum about, but likely centered around digital given the success of Trevor Noah’s “Between the Scenes.”
Spade said his new show would be he and his many comedic friends talking pop culture and that Viacom was the one to tell him that he was “a major social influencer” with his 1.6 million and 2.7 million followers on Instagram and Twitter, respectively.
“I love connecting with fans on Instagram as much as I like any relationship where I control the entire thing,” Spade said, adding that his new show also includes the development of some digital-only content.
“I can’t wait to engage with my fans — online only though,” Spade said, maybe joking.
Over at Twitter, signaling the assumption that a crowd of advertisers is likely out of the loop when it comes to youth slang, the crowd got a formal definition of “stan.”
Sarah Rosen, Twitter’s head of U.S. entertainment partnerships, put the full dictionary definition of the word up on the jumbo screen at Terminal 5, where the platform’s fifth straight NewFront was held, complete with a British accented voiceover to read it. For anyone wondering, a “stan” is a noun for “an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity.” It was important to get everyone in the room on the same page, because Twitter is partnering with MTV for something dubbed “The Stan Cam,” which will be available to users for the upcoming MTV VMA awards, now scheduled for Aug. 26.
With the new venture, people streaming and following the event on Twitter will be able to select which celebrities they want to “stan” and tune into cameras that show all of their reactions throughout the awards and also offer some backstage access.
“I think we can all agree we didn’t get nearly enough of A-Rod’s dad dancing to J.Lo last year,” Rosen said.
The Stan Cam was Twitter’s flashy announcement of the night, making for a sort of subdued closer to the first day of presentations. Another reveal was an expanded partnership with Univision, highlighting the increased usage of Twitter by Spanish speakers in the U.S., which will bring them more news and sports coverage. The Wall Street Journal is also a brand new partner with Twitter and will bring exclusive news coverage and videos to the platform this year, as the newspaper continues to push hard into digital. Other new partners are Bloomberg’s TicToc, tech product review site CNET and Time magazine, getting into its first months as an independent publisher with a wealthy new owner.
But with all of the issues around social content this year, from violent videos to the spread of “fake news,” Twitter’s presentation ended with executives assuring advertisers that they listen, not only to everything its users do and tweet, but to brand concerns.
“We made platform health and brand safety our number one priority,” said Kay Madati, head of content partnerships.
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