Revlon Products Play a Starring Role in #GoBold, Hearst's New Digital Video Series

The Series is Part of a Seven-Figure Deal with Hearst

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Hearst Magazines, the publisher of Cosmopolitan and Elle, has sold a big Revlon campaign including a 10-episode digital-video series called "#GoBold."

A spokeswoman for Hearst said the campaign's price tag is a "healthy seven figures" and includes not only the video series but also print pages, digital-display ads and social media promotions.

Hosted by Laverne Cox, a cast member on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," contestants on "#GoBold" compete in challenges, such as creating a magazine spread to communicate their personalities. Revlon products are integrated into the episodes.

Celebrity "mentors" including Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles are featured in the episodes, which are about 8 to 12 minutes long and will appear online every Tuesday, starting this week. The videos will be distributed across the websites of Cosmopolitan, Elle and Marie Claire magazines.

Hearst has guaranteed Revlon that the campaign will achieve certain amounts of movement on key performance indicators, though the company declined to say what they were exactly. "Every client has a different set of KPIs," said Todd Haskell, senior VP-chief revenue officer at Hearst Digital. "It might be streams, awareness or view-throughs."

However many millions of dollars advertisers and web publishers have poured into making online video series by this point, delivering views remains a dogfight. Distribution and promotion are now often just as carefully considered as the content itself.

In addition to posting the videos on its magazine sites, Hearst will also promote "#GoBold" using social media and ads served across all its media properties. The company is using its own programmatic advertising technology to serve those ads. That means Hearst will use the data it has on its readers to determine whether they're in the target demographic for "#GoBold." If they are, Hearst will show them a digital display ad for the series, according to Mr. Haskell.

Revlon, which didn't respond to an Ad Age email seeking comment, spent about $170 million on measured media last year, including about $87 million on consumer magazines and $3 million on digital display ads, according to Ad Age's DataCenter, which does not track digital video ad spending.

"It takes a village to get one of these big complex projects done," said Michael Clinton, president-marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines.

The scope of Revlon's campaign with Hearst also highlights the lengths publishers must go to in order to secure big deals with advertisers. Less than a decade ago, Revlon might have spent seven figures on print pages alone, but with competition fierce and automated auctions pressuring digital display prices downward, advertisers can demand -- and get -- more from their publishing partners. Amid such challenges, Conde Nast is jettisoning a longstanding policy that codified where its beauty advertisers appeared in magazines like Vogue and Glamour. Revlon is among the companies affected by the change.

Hearst Integrated Media brokered the deal with Revlon and its media agency MediaCom. Vimby, a production company that works with brands, produced the series. Vimby is part of One Three Media, a company owned partly by Hearst and partly by Mark Burnett, the architect of reality TV shows like "Survivor" and "Shark Tank." Mr. Burnett was also a pioneer in recent years' increasing integration of brands into TV shows and not just commercial breaks.

That's the opportunity Hearst is eyeing for its own video ambitions: creating videos that feature an advertiser's product. "There's a meaningful demand for customizable videos from our marketing clients," said Mr. Clinton. "That's more compelling for an advertiser than be adjacent to video."

Even excluding integrations and custom series, spending on digital video ads is growing at a rapid clip, with eMarketer predicting outlays for pre-roll ads, overlays and the like to climb 42% this year to $5.96 billion. That has encouraged a raft of media companies to enter the space, including Hearst's magazine rivals Time Inc., publisher of People and Sports Illustrated, and Conde Nast. Both companies have invested millions in their video efforts, hired former TV executives, built in-house production studios, hosted "NewFront" presentations styled after TV's upfronts and rolled out ambitious slates of original digital video programming.

Hearst has tread lightly into digital video, though it just minted a video studio for Cosmopolitan, its biggest magazine by audience and revenue., which introduced a redesign last week, attracted 10.9 million unique visitors on desktop and mobile devices in May, a 147% boost from the prior year, according to ComScore.

Other magazine brands at Hearst will have access to the studio, according to Mr. Haskell.

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