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MEDIA VOICES: The Scene Provides Home for All of Condé Nast's Video Content



Fred Santarpia
Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Condé Nast Entertainment
Condé Nast

In July 2014, Condé Nast unveiled The Scene, a digital video platform that curates and makes available digital-first content from its brands, including Glamour, Vogue, WIRED and Vanity Fair, as well as content from outside partners like ABC News and AOL. Fred Santarpia, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Condé Nast Entertainment, spoke with eMarketer’s Rimma Kats about the company’s new effort and how mobile video consumption is continuing to grow.

eMarketer: Condé Nast just released The Scene. What’s the strategy behind it?

Fred Santarpia: Our brand, while iconic, wasn’t known for creating video. We figured the easiest way to go out and do that was to build awareness and strike deals with distribution partners across different fronts. We did deals with companies like YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and Roku. We’ve got 20 distribution deals in total.

Over time we found that, although we scaled across these different platforms, we didn’t have one central location where consumers were able to browse content from all of our brands seamlessly. The landscape is a very broad spectrum. You’ve got YouTube at one end of the spectrum, with user-generated content that is immensely popular and attracts giant audiences, but the quality is inconsistent. Premium content from brands like ours tends to get lost in the flood of millions of user uploads that are happening every day.

All the way on the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got platforms with repurposed television, like Hulu and Netflix. The quality is exceptionally high, but content for the web tends to get lost next to programming built for primetime television. We saw this big white space between each end of the spectrum. You have these traditional media and digital companies investing in premium video made specifically for the web, but there’s no real home that curates the best of that content.

“You have these traditional media and digital companies investing in premium video made specifically for the web, but there’s no real home that curates the best of that content.”

eMarketer: Is the video content featured in The Scene the same across all devices, or does content vary?

Santarpia: Over time, you’ll see different edits for different platforms. On mobile, we want to encourage short-form, snackable activity. But when we’re presenting an experience for The Scene on an Xbox One or a Roku device, we want to encourage that lean-back viewing experience.

A great example is “The Single Life” in the Glamour channel. The full season might be presented in 23-minute clips or 20 to 25 1-minute clips on a mobile device. When you’re watching it on an Xbox in your living room, we may present that as one longer-form edited clip that takes the full season of short-form clips and presents it as one single viewing experience.

eMarketer: How does mobile viewing compare with desktop?

Santarpia: Our first content offerings didn’t launch until March 2013, but we saw that a significant portion of our audience was on mobile devices—about 40%. I expect that to continue to grow. As we create programming that’s longer form, there will also be an increase in the connected television space.

eMarketer: What is the demographic of Condé Nast’s smartphone and tablet video audience?

Santarpia: It skews female. The core of our audience is in the 18-to-35-year-old millennial demographic. We look at our audience as the influential millennial. The same types of folks who’ve been reading Condé Nast magazines for the last 100 years are also the same types of influencers watching our video content across various screens.

eMarketer: Can you talk about advertising on smartphones and tablets? What sort of ads work best on each of those devices?

Santarpia: We sell cross-platform. When you work across any of our channels, you’re buying media across all screens, and that includes smartphones, tablets, Roku and Xbox. Right now, the standard media is a pre-roll spot, whether that’s 15 or 30 seconds. That rolls across all screens for Condé Nast, and we sell that as one package.

Over time, the ad experience will continue to evolve on smartphones and tablets, but today, pre-roll is the currency in which the video marketplace is moving us.

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