Cynopsis Backstage at the Upfronts – 04/28/15: Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Maker & Revolt



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CYNOPSISBACKSTAGE
BEHIND THE SCENES at the Upfronts
The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a

Backstage at the Upfronts/NewFronts: Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Maker & Revolt

YAHOO

Yahoo rolled out the purple carpet once again for this year’s NewFront presentation. Throughout bright white Avery Hall at Lincoln Center were pops of purple in the flower arrangements, the couch pillows and even the servers’ bowties. The audience cheered as the event opened with Grammy-nominated producer and DJ Steve Aoki, who appeared from behind an enormous Yahoo sign in the center of the stage. He sported a large grin as the theater pumped with flashing lights in rhythm with the music’s beat.

First to hit the stage were Yahoo’s three #GIRLBOSS execs: Kathy Savitt, CMO and Head of Media, Lisa Utzschneider, SVP of Americas Sales, and Lisa Licht, SVP of Marketing Partnerships; each presented a section of the 18 new series and advertising programs. Savitt introduced Simon Cowell, one of the Executive Producers of a new competition series tied to Aoki, called Ultimate DJ. “We thought we would start small,” Cowell joked. “Actually, we thought long and hard about what we should do to make a show to appeal to the world. So, we came up with a show about Electronic Dance Music, because it has become one of the most important music genres in the world.”

In a surprise twist, Community star Joel McHale stepped out from the audience to reveal that he would co-host the rest of the event. He wasn’t shy to point out common gripes about the Upfront and NewFront season. “How long is this going to run for? When I came here an hour ago, Yahoo’s Newfront from last year had just ended,” he playfully grumbled.

Next, Katie Couric joined the presentation in an orange tea-length dress. She reflected on her first year with Yahoo as the site’s Global News Anchor. “I look at what I did in the last year in that 90-second clip, and to be honest, I’m kind of impressed!”

Following Couric, Naomi Campbell strutted across the stage to chat with Yahoo Style editor-and-chief Joe Zee about her new series, I Am Naomi. To top off the programming announcements, Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez appeared on a motorcycle to both announce her new series Riding Shotgun with Michelle Rodriguez and make playful banter with the Community actor. The two hopped back on the hog, and disappeared behind the rotating Yahoo sign.

At the end the event, Yahoo’s head honcho Marissa Mayer found the spotlight. She spoke about the company’s digital advertising options, or what she called Yahoo’s “mavens,” which included mobile, video, native and social solutions. She highlighted the 474 million Tumblr users, Yahoo’s advertising relationship with Honda, and its newest partnership with Millward Brown Digital. The digital measurement company will provide more scalable brand impact for ad campaigns. “It’s because of advertisers that we can continue to innovate for our users,” Mayer said.

McHale closed the event with Mayer, where he was able to get her to laugh as he tried to speak while they both continuously revolved around the Yahoo sign. “Stand up and go to that after party! Scream like Steve Aoki told you to in the beginning! I’m getting nauseous from rotating so much. Go!”

The After Party
Drinks flowed freely at the bar, including a special purple martini. Steve Aoki once again got behind the booth and spun his set the rest of the evening.

Most Quotable Quote:
“Are you ready to hear people talk about how excited they are? The excitement is palpable! Mostly because everyone keeps talking about how exciting it is!" – McHale


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BUZZFEED

BuzzFeed was ready to “cure your case of the Mondays” with its presentation during the first day of the Digital Content NewFronts yesterday. A line wrapped around 42nd Street to get into B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Once inside, attendees were greeted with a cranberry, champagne and vodka cocktail.

The room was draped in “BuzzFeed Motion Pictures” posters, while BF’s signature viral video “Wedding Season Is Coming” (2 million+ views and counting) played in the background. Small leafy salads and lobster and chipotle hoagies waited at tables, along with a mysterious yellow pillbox labeled with the acronym “wtf”  on Monday it stood for “why the face,” not the other common definition. A single pink pill sat inside the container…more on that surprise later.

The Rundown
Co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti kept things casual in his hoodie as he brought everyone up to speed on BF’s current stats:

– 1 billion monthly video views
– 200 million unique monthly views: four times the growth since 2013.
– More than 50 percent of the 18 to 34-year-old population in the U.S. read BuzzFeed each month.
– 44 clients and 100 branded videos to date.
– The company comprises of BuzzFeed (classic lists, quizzes), BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed Life (over 50 million uniques), BuzzFeed Motion Pictures and BFF (creating native media off BuzzFeed.com for distribution on social platforms and apps).

“We’re not just thinking of the content itself,” Peretti said. “We think less about how people consume media, and more about how people use media. A piece of media that leads to bigger conversations about their own identity have a lasting impact. While sharing is a good start, having an impact is better.”

The New Business Model

It was all about the distribution and the data this year. The strategy? Push out BuzzFeed content across all platforms, such as YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook and apps. The return? Pull in the sharing data to create more engaging content to build a better BF business.

“We resisted legacy media, [or long-form content and series], because although you can make revenue, you can’t learn other important things about an audience to make better content later on,” Peretti said. “Our core business model is to test content and learn. If something goes viral, we look at parts of what worked and make something else based on that knowledge.”

Dao Nguyen, BuzzFeed’s Publisher, presented the new video dashboard and data analysis platform called POUND, or the Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion. Pound will help BF and its clients better more readily absorb social sharing trends and in turn create better content.

“Shares are like a forest, not a tree,” Nguyen explained. “Sharers each plant a root to their own tree, but there are many sharers, which creates a forest of shares. All trees are radically different, and the structure of the forest tells us how content is shared.”

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures President and video guru Ze Frank also made an appearance to talk about the power of short-form vids before the show wrapped up.

Willy Wonka and the BuzzFeed Factory
So, what about that pink pill from the beginning? That “magic berry” tablet was meant to represent “the science of BuzzFeed,” or the magic combo of data and content. The audience seemed a bit apprehensive at first to partake, but with a bit of old fashioned peer pressure they gave in. Once the pill dissolved, it made anything sour taste sweet. BF had the audience try it for themselves with lemons, Guinness beer and sour cream and onion chips.


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Maker

Maker Studios showcased its collection of both videos and talent this morning in its own “art” gallery set up in SoHo’s hip Skylight Clarkson SQ. Guests entered an industrial white warehouse space where TV screens, displayed similarly to a painted canvas on the wall, exhibited Maker’s programming. The hall then opened to two large rooms that embraced a minimalist theme: wooden bars, retro leather couches, single bulbs hung from wires as lighting, and black and white wall prints. The company’s tagline, “Who Are You?” buzzed in neon light displays near the food hubs, which provided breakfast fare of mini yogurt trifles, juice shots with ingredients including ginger, orange, kale, beets, lemon and more. For those who wanted to carbo-load, mini croissants, egg benedicts, waffle muffins and the obligatory bagel bar were sure to please. “I could eat this all day,” said one happy guest as he slathered scallion cream cheese onto his everything bagel. Maker Mimosas and Bloody Maker Marys, in addition to hot and iced coffee, were on hand, too.

The presentation featured celebrity appearances from both the digital and TV worlds, such as David Milchard and Matthew Clarke of Convos with my 2-year-old and fashionista P’Trique who stripped down for the audience. New talent to the MCN includes fashion stylist Rachel Zoe, actress Taryn Southern and comedian Lisa Schwartz.

Embracing its Inner Mouse
One thing was clear from the presentation: Maker Studios has evolved past its humble roots, thanks to the nearly $1 billion dollar Disney acquisition that closed during the 2014 NewFront season. From the very beginning of the event, Chief Content Officer Erin McPherson referenced the bond the two companies share, as investors in young talent. “The Mickey Mouse Club was the most direct and connected visual medium at the time, because it let young people be themselves. Audiences could relate to them. That desire for them to create and share authentic content has not changed today.”

“Maker understands that there’s a reason Disney bought us,” Head of Sales Jason Krebs added. “We have the opportunity to reach the consumer in a different way that Disney hasn’t focused on in the past. In turn, we are able to work with all of Disney’s content divisions and expand our programming footprint.” 

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who signed a deal with Maker last year for the Smartish channel, commented on the acquisition to Cynopsis. “Everyone was so nervous when Disney bought Maker, but I think it has given Maker a much better foundation. Just look at today’s event: You can see it’s still Maker Studios, but everything has been stepped up a notch.”

The Ad Angle

Maker will work with agency DigitasLBi and new CCO Scott Donaton to create the Digitas_LAB, a program to co-create content, production, cross-platform distribution and media. In addition, Hispanic influenced MCN MiTú, will partner with Maker through an arrangement with Starcom MediaVest Group’s LiquidThread. The collaboration will fund the development of original series, social media programs and influencer platforms.

“The marketplace is completely different from last year; the advertisers’ understanding of the entire space is more advanced,” Krebs said. “They understand influencers, they get short form and multi-platform. It makes the conversation so much easier. We have validation now, so we come with more legitimacy and success. We all know advertisers like to see success before they take a big leap.”

–Yahoo, Buzzfeed, & Maker reported by Jessica Reese

REVOLT OMNIFRONT

With Sean Combs in the house, you know you can expect a celebration, and that’s exactly what 500+ attendees got at Revolt’s second annual Omnifront at Gotham Hall last Friday night. The network, “the new #1 name in music,” unveiled new programming, announced significant milestones, and discussed its overall commitment to keeping things real. And to top things off, hip-hop artist Vic Mensa made sure people knew they were at a party. Two bars flanked either side of the high-domed, chandeliered room and guests were given a cardboard "Dodocase VR," in which you can put their smartphones, download Jaunt apps, and get the VR experience.                                                                                                                       

So, what’s an Omnifront?
“The term was created by Sean, because our presentation blends an Upfront and a Newfront into something original,” says Keith Clinkscales, Revolt CEO. “Every day the line between television and digital continues to blur, and Revolt lives in that blur.”

“We were born during a time where all of these platforms are equally important,” Michael Roche, SVP of sales and partnerships told Cynopsis, “and it’s just being really smart about how you’re going to deliver content across them.”

What’s the pitch?
“All of our messaging is unified by one thing, and that’s authenticity,” said Clinkscales. “That’s the lens through which we see the world.”

“Revolt delivers the most content in music and culture, and we have the creative insights and talent to make brands an invaluable part of our audience experience,” adds Roche. “We break down boundaries in new technology and with advertising partners, and create first-of-their-kind programs all with the goal of standing out with authenticators, difference makers, and influencers.”

Who are your competitors, and how do you stand out from them?
“It ranges from Complex to Vevo to Spotify to MTV2 to iHeart to Vice,” says Roche, “but we are truly trying to break down any perceived issues with competition and focus on the need to have media companies work together for the benefit of the consumer.”

Roche points to Revolt’s partnership with iHeart urban radio show The Breakfast Club. “There’s a co-sales aspect of that where we can go to market together to sell both properties, which by many standards would be considered competitive. There’s really no need anymore to be so self-preserved that you can’t play nicely with others,” he says.

Pick a number
Revolt currently has 65+ national advertisers “across virtually every category,” Roche says, including Anheuser Busch, Fiat, Beats, Procter & Gamble, iHeart, and Honda.

“We’re ultimately attracting brands that aren’t afraid to influence this kind of rebel culture,” explains Roche. “They’re disrupters within their categories; they want this sort of killer inside perspective on what makes Millenials tick.”

On the distribution front, Revolt is projecting to be in more than 50 million homes in 2015, as well as on more than 150 million devices.

“For the audience that we reach, television means being able to get their favorite content on any screen they choose when they want it,” says Clinkscales. “Being in people’s hands is as important as being in their homes.”

Programmed for Success
Val Boreland
, EVP, head of programming and production, announced that Revolt is teaming with Snoop Dogg to bring his popular YouTube show GGN “to linear television for the first time ever.” Another new show, Day Today, is a docu-series focusing on the music, career, and personal life of rapper Wiz Khalifa.

The network also recently finalized an agreement with ESPN/XGames. “We’re launching a partnership with Summer X Games 2015 Austin and Winter X Games 2016 Aspen through which we’ll be able to tie together the passion between sports and music,” says Roche.

The Omnifront event also featured a display of Revolt’s partnership with virtual reality company Jaunt, which calls for the network to film and release 360-degree immersive performances. “This will bring viewers beyond the front row of the live music experience, and give advertisers a seat at the table to figure out how they want their brand to live in this environment,” Roche says.

Code Breakers
“We just completed a new study called ‘Code of Content,” says Roche, in which Revolt talked to developmental researchers, social influencers, and surveyed more than 4,000 young adults ages 15-29 years old. The study “explores the influence of each Revolt platform as a content creator, and ultimately helps brands think about how they can effectively play in each space across new media.” Research from the study will start being released this week, he said.

Happy Anniversary
“I asked myself, ‘What are you most proud of this first year?” says Revolt chairman Combs, “and for me the biggest thing was that we delivered on our promises. Right now there aren’t a lot of music outlets creating authentic, unique content, and that’s one of the things we have: we are able to deliver the talent on-air, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

JUST ASKING…

DJ Hannah Rad, On-air host, DJ, Senior Writer, and Show Producer for Revolt spun some answers to our questions.

What’s your favorite social media platform?
Instagram. Although Twitter’s updated .GIF game got me looking to swerve over.

Guilty pleasure TV show?
RuPaul’s Drag Race
gives me life.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Flying. 100%. If I could get somewhere in no time flat, yes, please and thank you.

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and what would they order?
Madonna and she’d order … me to put down the steak and do yoga.

Least favorite subject in school?
Math. PLEASE do not ask me to add or divide anything.

–Reported by Rod Granger

Coming up in “Backstage at the NewFronts,” hitting your mailbox at 6pm

Popcorn, mood rings, and Google Cardboard VR glasses: all about the Conde Nast Entertainment NewFront.

Plus, Hulu & AOL are up at bat; we’ll have all the details.



Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480

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