Yesterday, Meredith Corp. revealed that it, too, had joined the live video and virtual reality craze that seems to be sweeping the consumer publishing industry.
The women's publishing giant whose massive audience continues to grow — as of yesterday's statement, the company claims to reach 102 million unduplicated women in the U.S. — announced a commitment to expand its relatively nascent Facebook Live activity into a fully-fledged "video innovation" strategy encompassing live video, virtual reality, and 360º video.
The company wouldn't reveal specifics about upcoming initiatives planned once the new technology has been fully implemented, but Melinda Lee, Meredith's newly appointed SVP and GM of video, tells Folio: that the jump into the new formats comes as marketers are increasingly seeking those capabilities in publishers.
"We have developed creative expertise in VR and 360º in-house and are training all of our producers on these new production technologies," Lee tells Folio:. "We started by experimenting on more affordable cameras, but have recently made the investment in higher-end cameras, too."
Lee adds that the company is using open APIs at its studios in New York and Des Moines to ensure uniform quality and methodology across brands, further indicating that this is a company-wide strategy. A third studio, in Seattle, is scheduled to begin live video production later this year.
Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere, live video is almost certainly the hottest new distribution channel of the summer for publishers. Immersive video experiences provided by virtual reality headsets seem to be gathering steam as well, with The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and InStyle, among several others, already getting in on the action.
While Meredith seems no less bullish on the new video formats, Lee cautions that to fully realize the potential of any new medium, it is first necessary to attain a deep understanding of the technology and the ways in which audiences consume it.
"In order for content creators to fully utilize all the good things that live video and VR can bring to our audiences, we need to fully dive into engagement metrics and iterate on our ability to tell a good story through these new video production technologies," Lee tells Folio:. "Video insights are more important than ever and we have made an investment here."