Condé Nast has decided that while text and images will remain at its roots, video storytelling is the publisher’s path to the future. “Video has to be the core medium by which we tell our stories,” says Jim Norton, Chief Business Officer and President of Revenue.
Given its significant investments in premium video to date and its plans going forward, Condé Nast is in a great place at a great time. Producers of premium video content have two big leverage points—brand safety and audience reach—with which to pry traditional broadcast dollars from advertisers.
In this interview with Beet.TV, Norton discusses rising video consumption and audience numbers that rival not just television, but programming like the NBA and primetime network shows. It represents a “real blurring of lines” between dollars that could be allocated toward broadcast versus dollars allocated toward digital.
“We’re using the same writers, producers, directors that are producing academy award nominated content,” Norton says. “What you’re going to see is us moving from a very text- and image-based company to much, much more focused on video.”
Text and imaging will still be key building blocks. In fact, a number of the feature films that Condé Nast has in production derive from stories in publications like GQ and The New Yorker.
Condé Nast does “a ton” of branded content via its 23 Stories studio, including an always on, cross-platform effort with Cadillac involving more than 50 pieces of custom content. The next step is figuring out how to take that content and “bring it to life in an experience.”
To this end, the company recently acquired an experiential agency called Pop2Life, which offers ideation and strategy, environmental design and creative services, full-service event production, talent procurement and event concierge services.
“It’s really about bridging that last mile of consumer experience. Going from the screen or printed page to an actual, physical experience,” Norton says.
Norton addresses the issue of brand safety from an overall perspective of trust in this interview with Beet.TV. He’s says it’s not just digital that’s being questioned. “Consumer trust and confidence in all of media is really at a record low. You factor in fake news, alternative facts, fraud, just overall brand safety and it’s a bit of an epidemic,” Norton says. Hence Condé Nast’s story for advertisers and agencies is about “the trust of our journalism.”
As for the bigger digital picture, Norton calls on all players to pitch in and help to shape things up. “We want to challenge brands to comply with a lot of the industry initiatives that are happening right now, number one being tag certification,” he says, citing the Trustworthy Accountability Group and Condé Nast’s certification. “Many major industry CMO’s have made it a requirement. We are asking all of our distribution partners to get certified.”
This video is part of Beet.TV’s coverage of the IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts 2017. The series is sponsored by the IAB. For more videos from the #NewFronts, please visit this page.