Condé Nast’s video-platform The Scene has recently started hosting all videos from popular music site Pitchfork. Is this the way publishers will take Youtube on?
The Scene is your home for the best digital shorts, series, and documentaries from brands like WIRED, GQ, Glamour, Vogue, Buzzfeed, and many more!
Building an audience
Condé Nast has been buying up and partnering with a lot of what would previously have been considered niche websites. From Wired to Ars Technica, to Allure the glamorous publisher has for a while now had its view on building high-value audiences online, by going wide and going for quality in the life-style segment. The most interesting recent acquisition being the music review and news site pitchfork.com, whose authority among millennials is unrivalled and approaching religion.
Last year, through Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ), the company launched its own video platform The Scene, and for a while it seemed that the platform was doomed to fail, with its obvious rival Youtube hogging all the traffic as a matter of fact. But recently CNÉ has ‘forced’ its recent acquisitions and content partners to either exclusively or partially publish their content through The Scene and thereby pushing audiences through to the platform, whether they want to go there or not.
Launching the attack
The groundwork for an attack on Youtube’s video traffic monopoly was done over a long time by Condé Nast, and it seems the strategy is a smart one: go for quality brands with loyal audiences; cover the life-style and tech segments back-to-back; don’t go all-out and expect all viewers to find your content on your platform, but gradually introduce the platform by making your partners start publishing through your platform on their site.
The potential stroke of genius here is that audiences are not loyal to Youtube, but to the sites they’ve read and followed for years. By making them watch videos from your platform on the sites they like, the potential advertising revenue can be kept away from Google and no-one would know, at least not the viewer.
One potential problem is that people are not keen on a lot of pre-roll and pop-up links on their videos, particularly when watched on the sites they like, make that: at all, and this might make it hard for the various Condé Nast sites to monetise the video traffic directly.
Watching videos over at The Scene itself, as of now, means occasionally sitting through pre-roll ads and that is a risky strategy.
Another potential problem, faced by all who have tried to crack online video publishing, is that producing quality content over time, without exhausting your topics and your audience’s patience is very hard and expensive work. A lot of the videos currently hosted on The Scene are not up to the standard one would expect from a Condé Nast publication, taking this by-the-numbers video about Brad Pitt as an example.
As of now, Youtube, as the home of all video traffic, remains unchallenged. But Condé Nast is on to something with The Scene and its surrounding content partnerships and publishing strategy. Video audiences are not platform-loyal, unless those platforms lock you in, which no video-platform has managed yet. Opportunities for video content revolutions are still there. The Scene might be showing the way.