Conde Nast NewFronts Pitch: We Make Video for 'Premium' Audiences

Presentation Heavy on Content but Light on Data

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Dawn Ostroff, president of Conde Nast Entertainment, at Conde Nast's 2015 NewFront presentation.
Dawn Ostroff, president of Conde Nast Entertainment, at Conde Nast's 2015 NewFront presentation.

Conde Nast left an indelible message on advertisers at its NewFronts presentation on Tuesday: It produces a lot of videos -- more than 4,000, in fact, since the company introduced its digital video channels in 2013 as part of Conde Nast Entertainment, or CNE.

One more video, produced specifically for Tuesday's event, featured prominent ad buyers such as GroupM Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman and Digitas Chief Investment Officer Adam Shlachter ruminating on the NewFronts -- a little bit of flattery for the people who write the checks.

Conde Nast promised 2,500 more original videos this year and next, trying to impress upon the audience that the content and its audience are both "premium" -- a word expressed frequently by CNE execs.

"We're the only place for exceptional content, premium audiences at scale and a network that delivers," CNE President Dawn Ostroff, the former head of The CW, told the audience.

Conde Nast, which publishes glossy magazines such as Vogue and GQ, also reminded advertising clients that it throws a pretty cool cocktail party. When attendees arrived at the 3 p.m. presentation at Spring Studios in Tribeca -- in sight of Conde Nast's new headquarters at One World Trade -- they were met with a booming soundtrack of mostly '80s pop (think George Michael and Hall & Oates). The presentation concluded with cocktails, hors d'oeuvre and more music.

In between, sizzle reels dominated the roughly hour-long event. And while executives delved deeply into content -- including why its videos appeal to consumers -- they only skimmed the surface when it comes to data. They mentioned several numbers underscoring their growth in video, like 1.8 billion video views for Conde Nast Entertainment last year and a 102% increase in time spent on its videos. But they didn't delve further into the kind of details that today's data-hungry media buyers crave.

Ambitious slate
CNE's planned 2,500 new original videos will span its 18 channels, which include a dozen associated with Conde Nast titles such as Vanity Fair, Wired and Bon Appetit. It's introducing a new channel later this year, Vida Belleza, which will feature videos for and by female Latina millennials. The videos across its many channels include what CNE execs call their tent poles, such as Vogue's "73 Questions" and GQ's "Most Expensive Shit." It's producing a new series called "The Tyler Zone," starring Danny Pudi from the NBC-turned-Yahoo comedy "Community" and described as a comedic take on "The Twilight Zone."

It's also creating two virtual-reality series with Jaunt Studios, details of which will be announced in the coming months, the company said. Virtual reality is a minor trend at this year's NewFront, where The New York Times already made the technology a centerpiece of its presentation.

CNE addressed a looming question over its videos: How will the company ensure people actually watch what they produce? It already distributes videos on the magazines' websites as well as on YouTube, AOL, MSN, Amazon, Yahoo, Apple and other sites and over-the-top devices, CNE execs pointed out. Soon CNE videos will begin showing up on A Plus, the news site co-founded by Ashton Kutcher.

The company is also bolstering content on The Scene, the online home for digital video that CNE introduced at last year's NewFront and rolled out several months later. Videos from not only Conde Nast but BuzzFeed, PBS and The Verge appear on The Scene, and CNE will soon populate the site with even more videos from outside sources, including from Warner Music, Billboard, Pitchfork, The Onion, CollegeHumor, Red Play, Derek Jeter's publishing site The Player's Tribune and SoulPancake, a media company co-founded by actor Rainn Wilson.

At the end of the presentation, Lisa Valentino, CNE's chief revenue officer, spent a few minutes telling advertisers how they can work with the company. To illustrate her point, she showed off three branded video projects the company created for Gevalia, Lexus and Gillette.

And in keeping with the day's theme, she referred to the videos as "premium branded content."

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