The New York Times Spotlights Virtual Reality Video at NewFronts

Taking video to a new level with 'the next frontier of visual storytelling'

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If The New York Times' first-ever NewFronts presentation last year was about convincing buyers that the Gray Lady was serious about video, this year's was all about taking that video to the next level.

The morning's biggest announcement spotlighted the Times' early experimentation with virtual reality, which video GM Rebecca Howard, who first experienced VR at this year's Sundance Film Festival, raved about as "the next frontier of visual storytelling."

For its first foray into VR, the Times enlisted director Chris Milk and his production company, Vrse, to document the work of French artist JR, who created the latest New York Times Magazine cover. The video, Walking New York, was co-directed by Milk, JR and Zach Richter. (Attendees were invited to use Google Cardboard headsets throughout the venue to get a first look at the video.) According to the magazine's editor, Jake Silverstein, the Times will continue working with Vrse on VR projects.

The rest of the standing-room-only event was focused on how the Times' best-in-class journalism—and high standards—elevates its content above that of the virality-chasing competition.

"Everyone in this room knows that all publishers have a lot of pressure right now to create clickable content … But even if we wanted to, we couldn't get away with it," said Rebecca Howard, gm of video. "This sets a very high bar for us, but it also gives us a very unique advantage. Unlike anyone else out there, we have people's attention before they even press play."

T Magazine editor Deborah Needleman echoed that message while discussing T's approach to style and culture coverage, saying, "We're not your best girlfriend. We're not super clickbait-y. Our video is very thoughtful, purposeful and beautiful."

After spotlighting some of the Times' notable video endeavors over the last year—such as video reporting from a recent Pulitzer-winning piece on Ebola—a handful of new series were announced, including Andrew Ross Sorkin's animated series DealBook Explains; All in the Family, which spotlights family-run businesses; Trials of Spring about women in the Arab Spring; and The Graduates: Detroit Class of 2014, which follows recent high school graduates in Detroit.

Sebastian Tomisch, the Times' svp of advertising and innovation, was on hand to discuss the latest native efforts from the company's branded content arm, T Brand Studios. Since it launched last year, T Brand Studios has created 65 native videos for companies like Google and Cole Haan, with advertiser integration ranging from title-only sponsorships to a video for Shell starring one of the oil company's executives.

This year's newest sponsored series include the Corner Office, sponsored by Deloitte; Bits Presents Robotica, sponsored by Microsoft; Block by Block, sponsored by Halstead Property; and Made With Kickstarter.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.