While many publishers remain hesitant to produce videos for Instagram’s IGTV without a formal monetization system in place, Meredith Corporation is rolling out a slate of 20 original series for the long-form, vertical video app. The media company has launched 18 series across its brands to date, generating more than 20 million views on Instagram. The remaining two shows debut in the next six weeks.
Meredith’s embrace of the fledgling video app, which is currently ad free, is part of its strategy to be an early adopter of potentially high-growth video platforms. The publisher has capitalized on its growing IGTV viewership by selling native integrations of brand partners into video content.
“We want to go in big and we want to be there when [the platforms] are launching and developing their strategies,” says David Flumenbaum, executive director of programming and analytics for Meredith Video.
Flumenbaum came to Meredith following the company’s acquisition of Time Inc., where he was executive director of digital video. He now oversees central programming, data reporting, and distribution of video for Meredith brands and leads platform partnerships.
Like Instagram, Flumenbaum says Pinterest has highly engaged users who align with Meredith’s audience in the women’s lifestyle space, and he points to the platform as another social video priority. Meredith is sharing relevant how-to video from its existing library with Pinterest to take advantage of the app’s recent redesign, which prominently features video on category landing pages.
In the following conversation, Flumenbaum shares more insights into Meredith’s social video strategy and how its brands plan to venture further into OTT and personality-driven content.
Why invest in original video series for IGTV?
People that follow Meredith properties open Instagram 30 times a day, and it’s a very passionate audience in the lifestyle space. We saw IGTV as a place where we could make an imprint and make original content for a new platform and potentially a new audience who may not have interacted with our original content elsewhere.
How does your strategy for IGTV differ from other platforms?
For one, the format is different. It’s a mid-form format where it’s all vertical. [The video] is a little rawer than the stuff we’re used to producing – we experimented with doing full iPhone production of episodes. The idea we had with our slate was to take a brand like Martha Stewart Living, which the audience is extremely passionate about and loyal to, and dig into a niche area of their content. We launched a show on Martha Stewart Living called “Frosted” which is all about icings, frostings, and glazings. It’s something a little more micro than the type of content you would see either on the website or on the YouTube channel. … Travel + Leisure has a cool show called “Locals” that takes you into a subculture of a travel destination and is something that you might not have seen a year ago on Travel + Leisure.
Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities in video?
We’re looking at YouTube as a really big opportunity for us in the next couple years. We’ve realized that’s the place where we need to be, and we need to be more robust and dynamic and interesting and exciting there. What’s happened in the last year is YouTube has become a place for series – episodic, consistent uploading of long-form content – and we are addressing that and creating new ideas for that platform in the same way that we did for IGTV. We want to be something for each platform that we’re on, and we want to be designing content for those platforms.
What are the keys to engaging your audience with longer form content?
A lot of the content that seems to do well that’s longer form is personality-driven. I think people like a consistency and knowing when an episode of a series is going to be uploaded and, depending on the platform, being alerted when that episode is distributed. They feel like they’re part of a process of the video experience and speaking to a personality that defines one of the brands they love.
Leah Wynalek is editor-in-chief of BRAND United. She is passionate about creating content that engages audiences across channels – and delivering insights that help others do the same.