Aiding this transition to video is Melinda Lee, former VP of content and audience development at Hearst Magazines International, who joined Meredith to serve as their new SVP of video at the end of May. She is responsible for managing Meredith’s expansion into video, which will include live, VR and 360.
The company has created three state-of-the-art video studios in New York, Des Moines and Seattle dedicated to the new formats, with a 30-person video production team tasked with producing as much video as possible that aligns with Meredith’s brands.
“We have developed creative expertise in VR and 360º in-house and are training all of our producers on these new production technologies,” Lee told Folio recently. The company produces 500 videos a month, which get millions of unique views, according to Meredith. To date, Meredith has aired more than 26 live experiences on Facebook Live, generating more than 8.2 million views, according to a release.
Video will help create immersive experiences for Meredith’s audiences. Martha Stewart Living led the way, the first of the Meredith brands to go live on Facebook with it’s Easter Egg Decorating, which reached an audience over 1 million, and generated 14,000 engagements. Meredith plans on using video, for example, for behind-the-scenes looks at Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen, and working out live with Shape experts.
Above: Melinda Lee
Below, Lee gives FIPP some insight into the new video strategy and discusses engagement and audience:
What a huge investment into video for Meredith. Why was it so important that Meredith jump on Live, VR and 360?
Meredith’s goal is to continue creating engaging video content for our audiences, across all titles and brands. Because the video landscape is constantly evolving with new technologies, users are engaging in more immersive experiences, which is something worth investing in for our audiences.
Will all three formats go on all platforms?
Our internal audience insights support a tailored content strategy, which incorporates the formats that work best (and are possible) per platform. Knowing we have a blueprint for what engages our audiences cross-platform, as well as having the ability to create 360 and VR video, is a key strength. As a creative company, we plan to experiment with the capabilities and be agile in our approach so we can quickly create the most relevant content for our audiences.
Can you tell me a little about the custom-built cameras?
Our production teams have been experimenting with a variety of cameras on the market. Our producers wanted to work with devices that made stitching seamless and would render a high-quality experience. We also needed cameras that could endure longer shoot times and be durable enough to survive a bustling kitchen, for example. When you add live into the mix, it becomes even more important that we work with cameras that can deliver all these things.
Why was the technology and hardware such an important part of the strategy?
Our teams are constantly thinking about content and how it fits the audience for each of our brands. As such, it’s important we have the options to customise look and feel and deliver a unique experience to our different consumers. For example, our Better Homes & Gardens Live shows utilise three different cameras angles so the audience can better experience tips, demos, and how-to’s, without losing the program’s overall narrative.
Which of Meredith’s brands will be using video as a brand extension and in what ways?
Video is a key role across our brands. Once we begin to rollout new programming, it will become clear how we plan to leverage video as a product amongst the existing titles.
How does Meredith expect this strategy to reach new audiences or boost engagement?
As a data-driven content company, Meredith relies heavily on our proprietary insights, which helps us super-serve our audiences across platforms. By creating content that we’ve identified as being interesting, inspiring, and even humorous to our audiences, we’re aiming to give our consumers authentic reasons to share our videos with their networks and engage the greater community.
What advice do you have for other publishers on how to develop and maintain a video strategy? What is key?
Know your audience and everything about their consumption patterns. Understand what type of video formats resonate on each platform and integrate these best practices into your production workflow. Audience data and video insights will be your producer’s best friend.