Advertising Week 2014

'Gossip Girl' Would Be a Digital-Video Series Today, Former CW Exec Says

Dawn Ostroff at the IAB Conference During Advertising Week

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'Gossip Girl' ran on the CW.
'Gossip Girl' ran on the CW.

If "Gossip Girl" premiered today, it would be a digital-video series, according to Dawn Ostroff, former president of entertainment at The CW Television Network, which aired the teenage melodrama for six seasons starting in 2007.

Speaking at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual conference Monday, Ms. Ostroff, now president of Conde Nast Entertainment, said digital video would allow the show's creators to dive deeper into the show's many characters with short videos that accompany the episodes. She even likened it to a video game, where viewers have control over their experience.

Ms. Ostroff helped introduce and lead the CW network in 2006. Lately, however, digital video has become a far more urgent topic for her. As president of Conde Nast Entertainment since 2011, she oversees the video content for many of the magazines Conde Nast publishes, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, GQ and Wired. This year alone, she said, Conde Nast Entertainment has introduced more than 100 digital-video series.

"We are off to a strong start," Ms. Ostroff said of Conde Nast Entertainment, which, she added, "is where the future of content is headed."

Conde Nast Entertainment has earned accolades for its series, including an Emmy nomination for "Casualties of the Gridiron," which appeared on GQ's digital channel. Vogue scored a viral hit earlier this year with a video starring Sarah Jessica Parker, who answers 73 questions in quick successions. That's become a series, with subsequent episodes featuring "Gossip Girl" star Blake Lively, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and, most recently, actress Reese Witherspoon.

Making sure people actually watch these videos is a challenge that Conde Nast has tackled partly by creating The Scene, a digital hub for video content. The company also has a marketing strategy behind each series, according to Ms. Ostroff. "We're big believers in marketing," she said.

But the creation of the videos has caused tension at Conde Nast. Some editors are feeling chaffed because Ms. Ostroff's group has not consulted with them as much as they'd like. When asked during her appearance at the IAB conference about who comes up with ideas for video series, Ms. Ostroff said the company is inundated with pitches from producers.

"Editors and their staff are excited about quality video," she added.

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