• Why Video is So Strategic for Magazines

    With billions of video streams now being viewed each month, across an ever-growing array of devices, consumers' expectations are higher than ever that video is a part of the storytelling mix. For print publications like magazines and newspapers, that's creating a massive new opportunity to re-imagine their businesses, better connect with their audiences and pursue a new vein of ad spending.

    To get a better sense of why video is so strategic for magazines, last week I spoke with Lauren Wiener, who 6 weeks ago became president of global sales and marketing at Tremor Video, after spending 9 years at Meredith Corp, most recently as SVP of Digital. Meredith has been among the most active magazine publishers with video through its Meredith Video Studios business. The unit creates original video that is syndicated to YouTube and other online outlets along with VOD, and provides videos to Meredith's numerous magazines' online properties.

    Lauren explained that for Meredith, which also owns TV stations, online video production has been a natural evolution, especially since it already had studio operations. Video has become a compelling way to tell stories and importantly, to support how-to content through sight, sound and motion. It's also a way for Meredith to strengthen its position in niche verticals like home, food and parenting, in the face of competition from cable TV networks and emerging online properties.

    No doubt hoping to emulate some of Meredith's operational success, Time Inc. hired J.R. McCabe, a week and a half ago, who was VP and Chief Video Officer at Meredith. Time envisions centralizing its disparate video initiatives under McCabe to better support its properties and drive new revenues. That approach is also similar to what the Wall Street Journal has done in creating a central video unit that develops 100 hours/month of original video for WSJ Live and also to support specific articles/topics.

    Other magazine groups, like Conde Nast, for example, have take different approaches. It hired former TV network head Dawn Ostroff in late 2011 to build out an entertainment unit that would leverage ideas from Conde Nast's magazines, and other sources, for longer-form entertainment projects.

    The unifying theme here is better serving audiences and generating new revenues. Lauren pointed to Nielsen's recently-released Online Campaign Ratings as giving print publishers an important way of translating the value of their inventory to video ad buyers. So, as both magazines and newspapers develop their video further, there's no doubt going to be fierce competition for video ad dollars.

    Lauren noted that while magazines are still relatively early in their pursuit of video, they recognize that investing in new talent who know video production and blending them with core editorial and sales groups is critical. Consumers are showing an unlimited appetite for online and mobile video, giving magazines a chance to grab a piece of the action and a place in the digital living room.