NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick has beefed up its three-year-old content consulting and publishing practice Mediaco with new services and an expanded network of external partners.
Mediaco’s upgrade is a response to "accelerating change" in media and is intended to help clients better use brand publishing to address complexities including the rise of social networks as media gateways, native advertising, ad blocking, and programmatic storytelling, said Chris Perry, Weber Shandwick’s chief digital officer and Mediaco’s global chair.
Mediaco will be guided by an "Innovation Council," formed in the last quarter, Perry said. Executive editor-in-residence Vivian Schiller will chair the council and assume a new position as editor-in-chief and head of Mediaco in North America. In her new role, she will guide operations and continue to expand the network of Mediaco talent and advisors.
Schiller is focused on making sure clients are aware of and understand Mediaco’s newest elements.
"I want to make sure clients understand we are bringing them new opportunities from our Innovation Council and external partners we will be developing and growing, and making sure we can better serve our clients in this modular fashion," Schiller added.
The Innovation Council will shape best practice, analyze new services, and open doors to partnerships that span editorial analytics, influencer engagement, media distribution, and emerging content platforms such as virtual and augmented reality.
Initial members include Tony Haile, founding CEO of Chartbeat; Gaby Darbyshire, principal of Framestore Ventures; Mariana Santos, director of interactive and animation at Fusion; and Rahul Chopra, CEO of Storyful.
"[Haile] has unparalleled expertise and working knowledge of media engagement and consumer behavior around content; [Darbyshire] will help clients think through what is relevant in the emerging world of VR and AR; and [Chopra] has amazing insight into how news works and content spreads through editorial," said Perry. "These people have deep experience in areas we see as critical for success."
Mediaco has also instilled an R&D approach to co-create custom services that help clients address both creative and technical requirements to deliver value through brand publishing.
"Given the work we have done and where we see things going, we feel strongly about an open architecture approach for Mediaco," said Perry. "This means finding the best capabilities across production, distribution, and analytics, and bringing that into a new combination that will add value to client programs."
As part of this effort, Mediaco will incorporate a content analytics service, interactive experiences unit, and curated group of technology and content companies in its network to "accelerate the analysis and deployment of new category-defying capabilities," according to a release.
The first two ventures include a new data-driven, multi-platform video and content advertising offer from Visible Measures and a video distribution and live media partnership with ViralGains, a consumer-centric video advertising platform.
Perry told PRWeek that, when Mediaco launched, many clients were in an "experimental phase." They knew they had to get into brand publishing, but didn’t know how to make it happen.
"Over the last few years, we have seen our clients get engaged with branded content," he said. "Now they want to know how to better manage it, optimize output to engage with who they want to reach, and keep pace with change."
The new Mediaco, Perry explained, is about validation through "work that works" and helping clients navigate a challenging and ever-changing media environment by providing them with insights into management and production fundamentals as well as innovation priorities.
"We are setting up a framework that we will evolve as media evolves and the needs of our clients evolve," said Schiller of Mediaco. "We will partner with new tech companies and publishing platformsm and we will update offerings."