Conde Nast Taps Two Execs to Lead Branded Entertainment Arm

SMG Vet Eden Gorcey, Coach Marketer Will Misselbrook to Run Division

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Conde Nast Entertainment wants to produce more programs involving brands like AT&T-sponsored '#FollowMe'
Conde Nast Entertainment wants to produce more programs involving brands like AT&T-sponsored '#FollowMe'

Conde Nast Entertainment -- the magazine publisher's digital video, TV and film division -- is looking to grow its branded entertainment business with the hire of two execs. It has tapped Starcom MediaVest Group vet Eden Gorcey and former Coach marketer Will Misselbrook to run its branded entertainment division.

As head of branded content, digital sales and strategy, Ms. Gorcey will report to Conde Nast's Senior VP of Digital Sales and Chief Revenue Officer of its entertainment arm Lisa Valentino. And as head of branded entertainment, Mr. Misselbrook will report to Conde Nast Entertainment's Executive VP of Programming and Content Strategy Michael Klein. Both positions are new to the company; Ms. Valentino and Mr. Klein had been the de facto heads of the branded entertainment business.

Ms. Gorcey's and Mr. Misselbrook's titles may sound similar, but here's how they differ. The former lead on SMG's digital partnerships and content solutions business, Ms. Gorcey will effectively be responsible for getting advertisers in the door and giving them reasons to pay for Conde Nast Entertainment to produce branded content for them or incorporate them into shows already in development or being produced. Then that's where Mr. Misselbrook comes in. Coach's former director of global content development -- and alum of BBH, Saatchi and Wieden & Kennedy -- will be in charge of incorporating brands into the division's programming and producing videos for brands that people find entertaining.

"I wanted to have leadership on the programming team that was there partnering with the sales team. And with Eden joining Lisa with that focus on branded content, it really comes down to the fact that there are so many people knocking on our door," said Mr. Klein.

Conde Nast Entertainment has created branded videos for more than 300 brands since the division was formed in 2011. But the company is looking to capitalize on a booming sweet spot where native advertising and digital video advertising overlap. According to eMarketer estimates, advertisers will spend $4.3 billion this year on native ads, or editorial-like content that's paid for by an advertiser, and $7.77 billion on digital video ads. That would be 34% more money than the research firm projected that marketers' spent on either category last year.

"The hires that both Michael and myself are making, we have great expectation to deliver more volume of work and opportunity for the marketplace that has already shown itself to be a great business for us from the beginning," Ms. Valentino said.

Conde Nast Entertainment's video revenue has grown by 95% year-over-year, though Ms. Valentino declined to provide concrete revenue figures. More than 300 brands, including AT&T, Lexus, LG and Edward Jones, have worked with Conde Nast to create branded videos, according to a spokeswoman.

While the bulk of Conde Nast Entertainment's video revenue comes from traditional video ads and sponsorships, 40% of that money stems from the more customized work that incorporates a marketer into a video or series, which also happens to be the type of work that Ms. Gorcey and Mr. Misselbrook have been recruited to expand. However, Ms. Valentino doesn't think the revenue mix between traditional media sales and branded content needs to change.

"In so many cases they're activating different budgets," Ms. Valentino said. "Branded content allows us to get into more new budgets frankly than we've ever been able to get into before. And our media efforts are pulling from other budgets as well. I actually think we can see pretty significant growth coming from our branded content efforts as well as digital media."

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