Why IDG created a central video hub across its titles

IDG Communications considers itself “a best-kept secret” in the world of tech video, with aggregate viewership higher than CNET or The Verge — but far less recognition for it. Now, the company has a plan in motion to bring its video more visibility.

IDG launched IDG.tv in December to serve as a hub for video content from its media properties, which include Macworld, PCWorld, NetworkWorld and CIO. Now, it’s in the process of building out a dedicated video-production arm untethered to any individual publication, with roughly a dozen full-time staffers working out of studios in Boston and San Francisco. The team’s mandate: Make top-notch video content about consumer and enterprise technology for IDG’s global brands, whether that means creating new series or bringing a smart, differentiated take to tech event coverage.

“We really decided the time was right to leverage our audience and become the dominant creator of tech video on the Web,” said Dina Roman, general manager of IDG.tv.

Alongside the launch of IDG.tv, the company hired Kyle Kramer, formerly head of production at Vox Media, to serve as vp of video programming, spearheading its video content strategy. IDG has already rolled out a few video series, such as “Breakout Startups,” which examines tech startups innovating in their field, and “Hardcore Hardware,” which spotlights the most powerful new gaming tech for PC gamers. It plans to launch “many more series” over the next several months, according to Roman.

It’s a similar structure to the one at Condé Nast, which has a centralized video-production arm that creates video series and programming for its magazine brands. But IDG hopes to avoid the infighting and frustration that Condé reportedly experienced with its production unit by holding regular meetings and brainstorming sessions with its publications’ editors.

Decoupling video from its publications will also provide IDG with more creative and editorial flexibility, said Roman. IDG could expand its content purview to include travel tech or biotech, for example. “That may not fit for Macworld or PCWorld, but it might make sense to explore on IDG.tv and some of our social outlets,” she said.

The IDG network of sites already has substantial scale in video. IDG sites racked up nearly 8.8 million unique video viewers on U.S. desktops alone in March, according to comScore. In comparison, The Verge saw 645,000 desktop video viewers on its own site and 2.6 million on YouTube last month, while CNET had a tad over 2 million on its site and another 2.5 million on YouTube, comScore data showed.

IDG’s YouTube presence is minuscule today, but it plans to grow that alongside its owned and operated properties. It intends to use its existing publications, social channels and content-recommendation engines, such as Outbrain and Taboola, to drive traffic to IDG.tv, said Roman.

While IDG has fierce competition in the tech video space, IDG focuses more heavily on enterprise tech than most. CNET, The Verge and AOL Tech don’t go deep on innovations in cloud computing and new data technologies, for example, while IDG plans to bring more of that coverage to video. That could attract a wealth of business-to-business advertisers, said Rebecca Lieb, a media analyst at The Altimeter Group. Network security firm Tenable Network Security bought a sponsorship for IDG.tv’s security section ahead of the RSA security conference in late April, for example.

“Enterprise tech companies have complicated stories to tell,” said Lieb. “Showing is often a lot easier than telling to illustrate what these very complex solutions can do.”

IDG video attracts CPMs that are double the market average, asserted Roman, in part because of that enterprise specialty. “Say you want to reach men 18-49 who are IT decision-makers and I need to do that at scale,” said Roman. “We can do that. It’s not just the content we provide to marketers, but we can actually find and pinpoint specific audiences for them using a combination of first- and third-party data.”

Sponsored content is part of the plan for IDG.tv, said Roman, whether that means co-creating content with brands or posting their existing video content wholesale. But the company will be selective about what it accepts.

“At the end of the day, if it doesn’t provide value for our audience, it’s not going to provide value for our marketer,” said Roman.

Main image courtesy of IDG.tv / YouTube


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