Hearst Hunts for Web Video Advertising

NEW YORK Hearst Magazines is making a big bid for online video advertising as it completes the relaunch of its 14 magazine Web sites over the next three months, packing them with more robust video offerings.

Powered by Maven Networks’ technology, the sites will be running about 1,000 pieces of video by the time the launch is complete, up from a few hundred now, said Chuck Cordray, vp and general manager, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, which recently gained control of most of Hearst’s magazine sites from host iVillage.

The new content (all produced and, in the case of user-generated video, edited by Hearst) will range from cooking instruction videos on GoodHousekeeping.com to readers’ tapes of their boyfriends on CosmoGirl.com to a new celebrity and entertainment report Hearst is set to announce.

“As we take our sites live, what we’re really pushing is content in all digital formats,” said Cordray. “We’ll have far more photos and interactions like polls and video. … The format is less important than the subject.”

Maven’s technology, which is already being used by A&E Television Networks and Sony Pictures Television, will let Hearst tailor the video presentation to its sites and run high-definition visuals, Cordray said.

Not only will Hearst handle the selling of the pre-roll, between-roll and ad units around the videos (iVillage had been selling all of Hearst’s Web inventory, except for the teen magazine sites), but it will also easily be able to package video with its print and other platforms.

“It’s part of a much bigger push into digital advertising,” Cordray said. “This gives us much more opportunity to combine our print platform with our digital platform. If an advertiser wanted to buy, say, Cosmopolitan in print and online, that was difficult to do.”

Cordray wouldn’t name clients buying the video ads, which go live in two weeks, and said it’s too early to quantify the revenue potential from the new video offerings. He said, however, that the video is bringing in new advertisers.

Hearst will syndicate its video to MSN, which currently carries mostly text content from the publisher, and is looking for additional syndication partnerships to generate revenue and grow traffic to its sites, Cordray said.

Hilmi Ozguc, CEO, Maven, said the video ad revenue potential is significant for companies like Hearst. “We believe 90 percent of the economic opportunity for online video is going to be ad supported,” he said. “The folks who are going to make the most money with video are the large content companies.”

Other companies have been moving more aggressively into online video. Most recently, Time Inc. opened Time Inc. Studios to produce video content for its magazines and on the company’s TV and digital platforms.