Vogue is getting its own executive to head up an ever-expanding output of video content.
Robert Semmer is joining Condé Nast as the new vice president of video for Vogue, a first for the fashion magazine. He comes to the brand after a stint as head of content for Premier Music Group, a small music agency founded by industry executive Josh Deutsch. Before that he worked in various content roles at The Fader, Viacom and Vice. Although Vogue has its own small dedicated video team, Semmer will be tasked with further growing the magazine’s video audience, which just hit 5 million subscribers on YouTube and has been trending upward for about two years.
“The team in place has been fantastic and working really closely with Sally [Singer, Vogue’s creative director], but what we’re really excited about is enhancing video to a greater degree,” said Croi McNamara, senior vice president of programming for Condé Nast Entertainment, to whom Semmer will report. “We want to bring creative growth and business growth.”
Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief and artistic direct of Condé Nast, declined to comment, as video is Singer’s domain.
Vogue’s subscribers on YouTube are actually a fraction of its more than 23 million followers on Instagram, so there is certainly room to expand. As for whether such a big push into video — a near-constant area of focus for Condé Nast and its executives amid drastic print declines in the U.S. — is being led by demands of audience or advertisers, Singer said at Vogue, it’s certainly the former.
“If anything, we’ve always thought of our reader, viewer, user, over any logical extension that the market may be asking for,” Singer said. “I do think video takes the reader further than where we’ve been able to go in print, or even on social, though we do social video. Video has really been a laboratory….We’ve actually been surprised that advertisers have come to love it so much.”
But love it they do. Marketers in the U.S. are poised to this year spend $29.2 billion on programmatic ads in video, just shy of 50 percent of all programmatic ad spend, according to recent research from eMarketer. The researcher expects that split to remain about 50-50 for the next few years.
Beyond the typical ad placements and buys for video content, Condé Nast has also been investing more in video content produced for streaming series on Netflix and films. Longer-form content was a focus at the Condé NewFront this year, which is somewhat atypical for Internet video content. McNamara and Singer didn’t get specific on whether Vogue would be developing any series or longer form scripted or documentary content with a new video lead, but neither ruled anything out.
“The longer and deeper we can go with these pieces, especially documentary content, the better,” Singer said.
When it came to this year’s Met Gala, for instance, Vogue used its access to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga to push video content that was more than snippets of red carpet poses and dress flourishes, and received some of its highest views to date. The post-gala video of Gaga that went into the creation of her many looks with designer Brandon Maxwell already has more than 5 million views. Kardashian’s has almost 20 million. A 10-minute video of Kylie Jenner’s fitting and dressing for the event is going on 12 million.
“That content was created swiftly…by a small group of people who went everywhere to get these stories, going hotel to hotel filming, filming, filming,” Singer said. “It’s not something we’re handing off to other people and Robert coming in will help us to create even more.”
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