‘The more culture you own’: Condé Nast pursues more revenue growth with new brand-strength metric

Condé Nast is trying to remind advertisers that brand awareness and engagement matter too, even in a pandemic. It’s hoping that a new ad measurement framework, plus a new performance marketing offering, can help them make the case.

The publisher of titles such as Vogue and GQ has begun to talk up a new ad performance measurement framework called Share of Culture, which is designed not only to reinforce the value and relevance of Condé’s brands but to illustrate the relationship between a strong, visible brand and sales. It has begun using it in conversations with brands this week.

The metric, developed in partnership with Deloitte, assesses brands based on five different factors, including how much engagement they get, their influence, the quality of the content they produce, how trustworthy they are and how much they are leaders.

The idea, Condé Nast global chief revenue officer Pamela Drucker Mann said, is that more culturally credible and visible a brand is, the more quickly a person can commit to trusting and buying from that brand.

“The more culture you own, the faster you’re motivating the consumer to go down the funnel,” Mann said. “It’s about what is motivating consumers to buy right now. People want to buy into things.”

The Share of Culture framework is meant to be used partly to educate possible advertisers, Drucker Mann said, not just on where the advertisers fit into the cultural landscape but where Condé’s titles sit as well.

In a twist, the Condé-commissioned survey found that Condé Nast’s brands scored the best, topping platforms including TikTok and YouTube, as well as several prominent streaming services, which Drucker Mann declined to identify. Condé Nast’s brands were among 70 different brands Deloitte and Condé measured.

But to tie the framework’s findings more tightly to business outcomes, the ad performance framework is expected serve as a complement to a new ad product that Condé Nast has rolled out in beta to drive more sales for advertisers.  

That offering, called ecommerce accelerator, allows Condé Nast clients to retarget audiences that might have seen Condé Nast content featuring a client product with shoppable ads, not just across Condé Nast’s own properties but across platforms including Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube too, using Condé Nast brands’ handles for distribution. The publisher uses existing affiliate conversion data from its commerce content to establish sales benchmarks, then looks to use the accelerator to drive incremental gains.

Condé Nast’s confidence in its commerce capabilities has been growing through the pandemic. Through the first half of 2020, its commerce revenues are up more than 160% year over year, according to a spokesperson, who would not provide hard dollar figures.

And using Condé Nast’s channels allows the publisher to draw a cleaner line between consumption of content and purchase. It should also offer advertisers a kind of efficiency: Research Condé Nast conducted recently found that ads distributed on social channels through Condé Nast’s accounts were 30% more effective than the same ads distributed through the brand client’s account.

While ad buyers typically take publisher-created metrics with a grain of salt, the upheaval and uncertainty advertisers and agencies have been dealing with all year should give Condé’s framework some value, said Steven Bloom, managing director of enterprise partnerships at Omnicom.

 “The ability to tie back to business outcomes is always going to be attractive,” Bloom added.

Bloom said his agency hadn’t yet been pitched on its new tools, but he added that Condé Nast has made progress in showing that it can help address clients’ bottom-funnel objectives.

The accelerator is the latest addition to a growing suite of performance-focused ad products Condé Nast began rolling out around two years ago at its NewFront presentation. Those include Condé Nast Prime, a reserve of video inventory attached to its most popular video programming, and Prime Web, a set of shoppable ad units whose business results Condé Nast was willing to guarantee for any advertiser willing to spend at least $200,000.

Condé Nast is not the only publisher trotting out new metrics or frameworks for advertisers. NBCUniversal rolled out a kind of in-depth media mix modeling product this fall designed to eventually tie ad spending with the broadcaster directly to advertiser sales goals.


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