Viacom Launches Digital Studios at First NewFront, Ramping Up Online & Mobile Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Laugh with Majah Hype, wake up with Nikki Glaser, cook with Snooki, get animated with JoJo – and do it all on your phone.

Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) is here, poised to deliver hundreds of hours of premium digital content that will transport digital native stars from BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to the social and mobile platforms where their fans live.

This was the headline of Viacom’s spectacular first NewFront event earlier this week at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where the company marched confidently into the digital realm by detailing dozens of new short-form properties to feed its massive online social footprint of more than 850 million fans, elaborating on new content deals with Snap and Twitter, and announcing an expansion of its recently acquired VidCon conference to London this February.

“The launch of Viacom Digital Studios is an amazing opportunity to reimagine our iconic brands for a new generation of young, mobile-first audiences,” said VDS President Kelly Day. “We’re bringing the power and scale of Viacom’s global content engine and storytelling capabilities to entertain and engage our fans whenever and wherever they’re consuming content.”

VDS has been steadily ramping up since Day joined Viacom late last year, jolting year-over-year social video views and minutes viewed in the U.S. upward by 70 (to 4.3 billion) and 78 percent (to 4.7 billion), respectively.

The digital studio is a lynchpin of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s revitalization plan, as the company moves deliberately to expand its core television business onto next-generation platforms.

“… if you can think about all the time spent on mobile and all those devices out there, I think you quickly realize what a powerful growth engine that will be for our business,” Bakish told a crowd of investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in March.

While Viacom’s digital content will run across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels, the company’s NewFront highlighted new global original content deals with Snap Inc. and Twitter.

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Viacom Acquires VidCon, Boosting Live Event and Digital Businesses

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In a move that will accelerate its participation and investment in next-generation platforms and expand its focus on live events, Viacom has acquired VidCon, host of the world’s largest multi-day conference for the global online community.

VidCon – which will remain a stand-alone entity and retain its senior leadership team – will be able to considerably expand its global reach with the start-up spirit that has allowed it to flourish.

“VidCon has become the foremost gathering place for the passionate online video community, and the access to talent, experts and education that VidCon provides for attendees is unparalleled,” said Jason Jordan, Viacom executive vice president of Multiplatform Strategy and Operations. “We’re excited to partner with the team to help achieve their vision and expand VidCon’s reach around the world while maintaining the grassroots energy and authenticity that makes the experience so unique and special to so many.”

Moving Viacom to the center of the online video landscape

The announcement follows Viacom’s November launch of Viacom Digital Studios under President Kelly Day and last month’s acquisition of influence marketing firm WHOSAY, underscoring the company’s push onto the next-generation digital platforms at the center of our fans’ lives.

Even as VidCon expands the reach of its eponymous events, the company’s capabilities will both complement and bolster Viacom’s ongoing digital efforts.

“We’re huge fans of the VidCon team, and we share the same enthusiasm for the power of connecting talented creators with their incredible fan communities,” said Day. “This team has built an unprecedented live experience that brings together the global online video community in celebration of the people and platforms shaping the future of content, and we’re excited to join forces as we look to expand our slate of original digital programming and partnerships.”

Boosting Viacom’s growing live event portfolio

Last year, Viacom launched Comedy Central’s inaugural ClusterFest, which attracted 40,000 fans and rave reviews. The BET Experience brought in 165,000 fans. Paramount Network’s Bellator MMA visited New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time.

This was all part of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s long-term strategy to considerably increase the number, reach and impact of live events in the company’s portfolio. VidCon fits perfectly within those plans.

With more than 30,000 attendees and 80-plus sponsors (including, for many years, Viacom), at its flagship Anaheim event, VidCon has become the largest multi-day conference of its kind and cemented itself as the premier event for the worldwide online video community. And while VidCon has already carried this momentum into events in Amsterdam and Melbourne, Viacom’s global network of platforms and properties give it the resources to supercharge that reach both internationally and within the United States.

“I couldn’t imagine a better partner to help VidCon continue its mission of democratizing the creative economy around the world,” said Jim Louderback, CEO of VidCon. “Viacom’s expansive reach across all of our key constituents will give us the opportunity to expand our global footprint more rapidly. We’re also looking forward to their expertise in pioneering and executing live fan-first events – from the Video Music Awards and BET Experience to Comedy Central’s ClusterFest – as we continue to make VidCon a life-changing experience for those that create and love online video.”

VidCon will remain a standalone subsidiary and voice for democratizing the creative economy

From its offices in Missoula, Montana, Louderback and co-founder Hank Green lead a 20-person team that has established an important meeting place, safe space, and community-driven destination for online video creators and their fans. They have long partnered closely with United Talent Agency, who has pushed global sponsorship sales to maximize the organization’s visibility and impact.

None of this will change (though Louderback will report to Viacom’s Day and Jordan) – Viacom will simply provide more resources and a bigger microphone to allow VidCon to continue nurturing the online video community and ecosystem.

“I’m so happy that we found such a strong, successful, and progressive company to give our team the stability and resources needed to make bold moves at home and grow what we’re doing internationally,” said Green. “Viacom has decades of expertise creating incredible live events for fans, and we are building something truly unique by blending that with our team’s deep care and passion for the community and culture of online video. I’m so excited to be part of this team and to continue our work connecting people, providing amazing experiences and helping creators create.”

Viacom to Welcome Proven Partner: Influence Marketing Company WHOSAY

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom has signed a definitive agreement to acquire WHOSAY, an influence marketing company whose deep reach into next-generation advertising and marketing platforms and solutions will boost Viacom’s capabilities across advertising, marketing and digital content.

Partnering with some of the world’s most recognizable brands, WHOSAY does everything from crafting campaign strategy to casting influencer talent to producing premium content and live events to analyzing data and performance.

An important piece of Viacom’s strategic plan

Viacom’s acquisition of WHOSAY will be an important component of the business strategy laid out by CEO Bob Bakish, who has frequently discussed the necessity of further expanding onto emerging digital platforms and beefing up the company’s already considerable advanced-advertising capabilities.

“One objective is accelerating our participation in next-generation platforms and solutions,” Bakish said, outlining his principle 2018 objectives at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in December. “So those are things like the over-the-top business, where we see significant opportunity on the virtual MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] side, also the direct-to-consumer side, and related to that, the advanced advertising side. And this is not something that we’re making up … we had about $350 million of business there across those sectors [in 2017], and we believe that’s a $1 billion business by 2020.”

A proven partner

This acquisition will unite two engaging storytellers, fusing Viacom’s global content engine, diverse audience and best-in-class advanced advertising tools with WHOSAY’s precision ability to seamlessly match brand objectives with talent and creative, and optimize the message through omnichannel distribution.

WHOSAY has already executed more than 50 campaigns for MTV, BET and other Viacom brands over the past two years, crafting activations that feature top influencers such as singer/songwriter LeToya Luckett for November’s BET Soul Train Awards, and rapper Lil Yachty and actor Keegan Allen for the MTV Movie & TV Awards in May.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTnZWW6l0jj/?taken-by=keeoone&hl=en

“We’re excited about a deeper integration with WHOSAY and the strength of our combined capabilities,” said Viacom Head of Marketing & Partner Solutions Sean Moran. “This partnership will add to our linear, digital and mobile arsenal by bringing us further into the world of social media and shopper marketing. Together, we will offer brand partners unparalleled creative solutions that maximize the power of storytelling, influencer reach, omnichannel distribution and advanced advertising tools to create quality campaigns that drive results.”

Complementing Viacom’s strengths

Amplifying the power and reach of WHOSAY’s campaigns is the company’s expertise in matching brands and influencers via its proprietary Match platform. Once the pairing is solidified, WHOSAY is expert at distilling a brand’s goals, creating a campaign, and spreading that message to the ideal audience through social, digital, mobile, linear, experience, out-of-home and other channels.

These advanced whole-campaign capabilities and digital focus will act as a powerful complement to many of Viacom’s existing entities, including the Velocity full-service integrated marketing and creative team and the company’s newly created Digital Studios unit under Kelly Day.

The addition of WHOSAY to Viacom’s portfolio will also underscore Viacom’s position as a leader in advanced advertising, building upon the significant capabilities of its data-driven audience-targeting Vantage product and its status as a founding member of the OpenAP audience targeting and measurement platform.

In addition to their considerable digital and event capabilities, WHOSAY has built a bricks-and-mortar-focused WHOSAY Shopper team, which will open up potential new retail opportunities for Viacom brands.

Viacom Digital Studios Launches Under Kelly Day, Comedy Central Adds Digital Head

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Big news today for Viacom:

Under the banner of Viacom Digital Studios, Day will lead creative and editorial production for digital content across Viacom’s portfolio of global brands.

“The Viacom Digital Studios unit will further propel our efforts to become a meaningful player in digital-native content, while also elevating the social profile of our brands,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish wrote in a note to employees shortly after the announcement. He also noted that the company would hire staff and strategically reorient certain segments of the company to support Day’s efforts.

Day’s hire comes just after Comedy Central named industry veteran Jennifer Danielson as senior vice president of its digital operations, where she will oversee digital comedy creation for the network.

The moves come as Comedy Central and many of Viacom’s other core properties, including BET and MTV, are experiencing ratings gains behind a reinvigorated programming slate.