Upfronts / Newfronts

Young YouTube Celebs Star at Seventeen's Unofficial NewFront

Using AwesomenessTV to Harness 'Authentic' Social Powers

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Seventeen Magazine Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket hosts a panel of young YouTube and Vine personalities.
Seventeen Magazine Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket hosts a panel of young YouTube and Vine personalities.

BuzzFeed tried to win over web video advertising at a NewFronts pitch Monday by talking up its strength: sharable content. Conde Nast today is holding a NewFronts presentation emphasizing videos based on its magazine brands. Seventeen Magazine's panel on Tuesday morning, however, relied on powers you may never have heard of: YouTube and Vine sensations like Arden Rose, Meghan Rosette, Teala Dunn, Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier.

Seventeen isn't trying to turn its editors into YouTube stars, Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket told the roughly 75 people in attendance, mostly media buyers and advertisers. "The key to our success as a magazine and on YouTube is we tapped into the authenticity of YouTube," she said.

Seventeen parent Hearst Magazines last year teamed up with AwesomenessTV, which produces content for YouTube, to create original content under the Seventeen brand. AwesomenessTV works with YouTube personalities to develop content for the channel; Hearst sells premium sponsorships.

DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV last May for $33 million in cash with additional payments to come if certain targets are met this year and next, according to DreamWorks.

The Seventeen channel has added 280,000 subscribers since it rolled out in January. The channel is gaining 1 million video views per week, according to Ms. Shoket. "We have put all our resources behind this channel," she said.

Seventeen's October issue will be dedicated to YouTube, she added.

Hearst's event wasn't part of the official NewFronts, but it was an attempt to compete for the same ad dollars all the NewFront presenters want: TV ad budgets that might move over into web video, given compelling enough reasons. The New York Times, Time Inc., AOL, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo and others are all hosting official NewFront presentations this week.

The young social media luminaries (yes, luminaries -- ask a teenage girl if she knows Cameron Dallas or Nash Grier) explained Tuesday how they want to work with marketers, although in some ways their advice was the same you'd hear anywhere. Authenticity is key when it comes to working with brands, according to Ms. Rosette, whose shows for Seventeen focus on food and cooking. Otherwise, their readers feel they've "sold out," she said.

Mr. Grier, 16, has more than 7.5 million followers on Vine; Mr. Dallas, 19, has 4.1 million. They're joining the AwesomenessTV MultiChannel Network, Ms. Shoket said. The pair will star in their own film produced by AwesomenessTV.

Publishers have looked to digital video as a new and potentially lucrative revenue source amid declining print and digital-display ad sales. Large brands like Target have worked with Seventeen on ad programs that span print, digital and YouTube, with integrations into certain shows.

Videos often fetch higher ad rates than other forms of advertising, but it's also expensive to produce and promote. Conde Nast has invested tens of millions in a separate division that's partly charged with creating digital video content; Time Inc. has built its own video studio and partnered with several major sports leagues to create the video channel 120 Sports. Both companies plan to show off these digital wares at their NewFronts.

When asked why Hearst chose to sit out the official NewFronts, David Carey, president of the company's magazine division, said it had its own schedule. "We have a series of video initiatives rolling out in the next few months, including an exciting new product announcement in June, and then more at our own upfront in the Fall," he said in an email. "That cadence worked for us."

Last October, Hearst held a "magazine upfront" to drum up advertiser interest for its print and digital content. The event perplexed several media buyers, partly because magazine inventory, unlike commercial time in popular TV shows, is essentially unlimited, eliminating much need to negotiate for it far in advance.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier will create content for the Seventeen YouTube channel.