During Condé Nast Health’s “The Now, The Next and The New” HCP marketing event last month, the venerable publisher debuted Analog, an engagement model for marketers hoping to connect with HCPs during a period of limited rep access. On Thursday, it turned the spotlight on its digital offerings, of which there are many. Here’s what I took away from the hour-long Condé Nast Health Newfront presentation.
1. Condé Nast creates a lot of video.
I hadn’t been aware that, as CN head of agency partnerships Eden Gorcey noted, the company is “the largest premium content creator on YouTube.” Yes, “premium” might do a lot of the lifting in that description, but Gorcey shared that CN’s 2020-2021 season will include 57 returning series, 150 (!) pilots and 20 new health series. For any media organization, much less one still shedding the perception that it is a quote-unquote magazine company, that’s a lot.
These aren’t low-velocity, do-an-interview-and-call-it-an-afternoon offerings, either. Health- and wellness-minded series teased during the presentation included three new titles under the Self banner (“Well Drawn,” “Small But Mighty” and “Day to Day”), Allure’s “Skincare Generations” and GQ’s “Head Space.” The latter, with its focus on what CN head of content development Lloyd D’Souza characterized as “the mental strength of athletes and entertainers…what do they eat, how do they train differently,” sounds like health and wellness marketer catnip.
2. Condé Nast views health as one of its sweet spots, if not the sweetest.
The company didn’t get into its fashion or beauty digital offerings at the Health Newfront, for obvious reasons. But CN head of health Carrie Moore stressed that the company is “continuing to lead with video-first strategy” and “prides itself on bringing innovation to healthcare and doing it in ways nobody else can.” That’s evident in Self’s “My Way to Well,” a data-informed product that allows patients to explore what it means to live with a range of health conditions.
3. It’s worth noting a change in approach as well.
A few years ago, the company’s operating philosophy vis-à-vis the digital realm seemed to be something along the lines of “we’ve got all these amazing magazine brands and they are, like, totally digital.” Now, most references to CN print brands specifically exclude the word “print.” Self, which editor in chief Carolyn Kylstra noted “went digital only four years ago,” sure seems to have made up lost ground, and then some.
4. To that end, Self’s “Well, Actually” was the Newfront’s breakout property.
There’s a reason that CN gave Self digital director Leta Shy and “Well, Actually” host Dr. Jessica Clemons a 10-minute interview slot during the presentation, during which they discussed the documentary series’ enormously timely first episode “The Unequal Burden of Asthma.” The company knows it has something unique and compelling here, both in terms of content and in terms of engendering commercial support.
Asked by Shy to share advice for creators of health content, Clemons, a psychiatrist, said, “Medicine hasn’t quite done public outreach well. What I mean is that we do a one-size-fits-all PSA… and hope that people engage with it.” She added that content creators should “use storytelling as a way to get messaging across. Know your audience and don’t be afraid to talk directly to them.”
The only issue? The title “Well, Actually” has proven quite the popular title in the era of self-anointed experts correcting lesser minds via social media. Nobody is likely to conflate Self’s version with, say, the “Well, Actually” podcast about mixed martial arts, but the less confusion in the content marketplace, the better.
The “Well, Actually” documentaries run 20-plus minutes in length. The second one, focusing on psoriasis, is currently in production.
5. Before too long, Health Podfronts are going to be a thing.
A majority of the Newfront programming revolved around video, with data (the new Obsidian “cookie-free targeting solution”) and digital (more and bigger health destinations, including “Travel and Health” from Condé Nast Traveler and “What I Live With” from Glamour) receiving their share of attention. This had the unfortunate effect of relegating the discussion of podcasts to a quick aside in which Moore touted seven “premium launches” and CN’s “significant investment in audio.”
Given that only one of the podcasts referenced was health-first (“Self Ask Me Anything”), it’s understandable that the medium didn’t merit its own event. At the same time, Moore reported “28 million hours of listening” to Condé Nast audio. With health-centric podcasts surging in listenership, it’s only a matter of time before podcasts achieve headliner status.