COLOGNE – In a growing direct-to-consumer brand environment, can positive, trusted and emotional content help marketers connect to consumers? CNN has wagered more than $40 million on Great Big Story and is convinced its content philosophy for younger viewers provides that connectivity.

Launched in 2015, Great Big Story is an independent digital studio owned by CNN and whose roots began in short-form videos. The majority of its content is distributed “outside of the CNN universe” across a range of channels, with social media having a huge role, says Pippa Scaife, Commercial Director, Great Big Story, CNN International.

“I think the majority of our distribution, particularly when we work with brand partners, happens on our social channels,” Scaife says in this interview with Beet.TV at the recent DMEXCO conference.

“Facebook and YouTube are where we tend to guarantee our views and that’s where we see most of our audience engaging with the content.”

Launched with the intention of competing with the likes of VICE Media and BuzzFeed, Great Big Story secured an investment of $40 million from CNN in June of 2017, as The Hollywood Reporter notes. The funding was to expand into a 24-hour streaming network for long-form, non-scripted and acquired programming.

“I think the common denominator across all of the content that we create, whether it’s editorial or sponsored content, is that it really drives the idea of emotion and specifically the idea of positive emotion,” says Scaife. “I think that’s the kind of sweet spot that makes our content work very well with our consumers and also appeal to our brand partners.”

Those brands are seeking “a range of KPI’s,” including time time spent with their brand, engagement and brand recall. “And we deliver on all of those things through emotional storytelling, but we also use the in house data platforms that we have to ensure that once we’ve created that content we’re putting it in front of the right audience at the right time.”

Referencing the direct-to-consumer movement in which newer brands shun traditional advertising and distribution models, Sciafe believes establishing trust is paramount.

“By creating this positive emotional content on behalf of their brands, we’re really able to help them achieve that and I think that’s what’s very unique about Great Big Story and that’s why so many partners are coming to us.”

This interview is part of a series titled Advertising Reimagined: The View from DMEXCO 2018, presented by Criteo. Please find more videos from the series here.