Women’s Wear Daily
04.17.2014
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Dawn Ostroff Talks Condé Nast's Digital Strategy

The Condé Nast Entertainment president braved the New York snow Tuesday morning to speak at The Paley Center for Media.

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CONDÉ’S DIGITAL DAWN: Condé Nast Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff braved the New York snow Tuesday morning to speak at The Paley Center for Media about the importance of Condé’s digital strategy. Ostroff, who came to Condé Nast in 2011 after heading up the CW and UPN, has been charged with developing the company’s entertainment group, which includes video, film and television.

Referring to the entertainment group as a “start up” of sorts, Ostroff highlighted the need for media to extend its reach into the digital space to drum up new revenue streams. “If you look at where we sit today, I think every company has to be a media company. We all are starting to see that the lines are blurring in every direction,” she said. “There are so many assets that are sitting at Condé Nast. It’s been a treasure trove.”

That trove includes a Wired story about the founder of antivirus software company McAfee Associates, who went on the run after he was found guilty of murdering his neighbor. CNE plans to turn that story into a film, a venture that is perhaps a reaction to a missed opportunity. In 2007, Wired published the story upon which Ben Affleck’s Oscar winning film “Argo” was based, but Condé didn’t get a piece of the action.

“It probably would have been appropriate for us to participate in some way,” she said of “Argo,” adding that she’d like to see CNE jump into the producing game.

Ostroff is working on a host of new projects that span the media gamut. She pointed to CNE’s documentary series, “Casualties of the Gridiron,” which was inspired by a 2009 GQ story. Making its debut on Dec. 18 across the CNE digital network, GQ’s video site, YouTube channel and via syndicated partnerships, the series chronicles pro football players’ lives after sustaining head injuries.

The executive noted that this series could possibly be submitted for Emmy consideration, as the lines between content continue to “blur.” “We could very well see some of the content go on linear television,” she noted. “There are no real rules anymore, that’s what I see so fascinating.”

While mainstream recognition would be welcomed, it’s not the main goal, however. “What’s most exciting is this digital video network,” Ostroff said. She offered that 75 percent of advertising agencies have put their digital budgets under their broadcast and television budgets and renamed it their “video” budgets. “I think that’s the clearest indication that all video is viewed the same,” Ostroff said. “It’s one big bucket of money.”

Taking into consideration the burgeoning importance of digital in growing a publication’s DNA, an audience member asked if the title’s print editor would still hold the reins when it comes to directing a magazine’s “voice” in the future.

“I would never trample on anybody’s brand first and foremost,” she said. “I come at it with a real sense of respect for what they have built. My goal is just to be able to preserve it and take it on to another platform, keeping it intact.”

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