Why Publishers Need to Focus on Audience and Brand as They Step Up Their Video Efforts

Let's talk pivot

The panel discussed the pivot to video at Adweek's Elevate summit. - Credit by Raquel Beauchamp for Adweek
Headshot of Corinne Grinapol

The pivot to video came upon the publishing world with a force still being grappled with, even as the video environment continues to evolve.

During a panel discussion on the subject during Adweek’s first Elevate summit today, Vox general manager Andrew Golis described the experience as “moving from a world of scarcity to abundance.” Regina Buckley, Time Inc.’s svp, digital business development and business operations, and brand general manager, lifestyle, depicted it as a type of creative destruction. “Media walls are crumbling down and being rebuilt,” she said.

How to rebuild is an open-ended question, but a few words–ideas, really, emerged among the panelists as central to the successful pursuit of video: brand and audience.

“The way we think about content and who is consuming has changed dramatically,” says Buckley. “It’s really a nice thing that has evolved that we think about how to serve the consumer.”

And many of the panelists expressed the idea that for a publication to know its audience, it needs to retain a sense of itself in video. Golis credits Vox’s success on video platforms with the publication’s “obsessive focus on identity and mission,” which is as relevant in video as it is in other formats. That sense of brand, encapsulated by the Vox Media Explainer Studio, extends to the publication’s branded video efforts as well. Vox Media creates explainer videos for brands through its studio that have watch times of five minutes and more, according to Golis.

For Adam Winer, vp of digital video strategy at Condé Nast Entertainment, the type of content being produced can “become things that define the brand,” pointing, for example to how series like GQ’s Most Expensivest Shit, hosted by rapper 2 Chainz, can expand the brand.

Daily Mail publisher Martin Clarke views video an an opportunity to build on the publication’s brand. The publication’s new television program, DailyMailTV, which launched in September with host Jesse Palmer, “gives us the clout to go after bigger stories than before,” Clarke told Adweek. The success of the show, which is enjoying growing ratings and a 95 percent U.S. market penetration, according to Clarke, impacts the success of the newsroom, while the work of the newsroom, and the journalists themselves, influences the content of the show.

“It’s not just a branded add-on that has nothing to do with the website,” he says of the program.

“For a lot of us, whether legacy or new company, thinking about trying things in a new way–it’s been very liberating because for the most part we weren’t doing it 20 years ago,” says Thrive Global chief content officer Callie Schweitzer.

But for experimentation to work, publications need to make space for that to happen. Hearst Magazines Digital Media president Troy Young suggests publications should “remove the risk for people, realize that the data that comes from experimentation is more important than anything else.”


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