DigitasLBi Becomes the First Agency to Ink a Deal With Discovery-Backed Group Nine Media

Includes big content and analytics push

DigitasLBi is pairing its production studio with Group Nine Media's analytics.
The Dodo

At its Digital Content NewFronts presentation this afternoon, DigitasLBi announced a deal to crank out lots of advertisements and content for Ben Lerer’s Group Nine Media.

Group Nine was formed in October with a $100 million investment from Discovery Communications as an umbrella company for Thrillist, NowThis, Seeker and The Dodo. The DigitasLBi program marks the media company’s first deal with an agency, per Lerer, Group Nine’s CEO.

“Content consumption has totally changed—the last few years in particular has brought this rush to social,” Lerer said. “What we’ve done is take some of the biggest, most powerful and most engaging brands in social and put them together and try to create a new TV holding company for the new kind of TV, which happens in social.”

The partnership entails proprietary technology that takes brands’ existing creative assets, cuts them up and packages them for social media. The content comes out of Snacktory, DigitasLBi’s creative and production studio that spiffs up underperforming content into “snackable” clips. In return, Group Nine provides an analytics and insights engine called Spotlight to contextualize and distribute the content. Group Nine claims to have more than 50 million fans and 4.5 billion monthly video views across all of its brands.

“The idea is that we can start with a white paper that one of [DigitasLBi’s] brands is creating that’s totally not built for mass distribution,” Lerer said. “You can take something that nine people were going to read and have 9 million people see it.”

Each time DigitasLBi works with Group Nine, the agency will have access to the publisher’s analytics engine that can be used to inform future content development and distribution strategies.

Group Nine Media will also host its own stand-alone NewFronts presentation next week.

In recent years, DigitasLBi has announced similar types of projects, including with Vice and Vox Media, and last year worked with Facebook to create a livestreaming morning show for the social network. The agency co-founded the Digital Content NewFronts in 2008 before the Interactive Advertising Bureau took it over in 2013.

“We both have these content transformation tools in their own way,” said Scott Donaton, chief content officer at DigitasLBi.