NowThis has conquered social news and is going after food videos next - and BuzzFeed and Tastemade should be worried

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Screen Shot 2017 12 06 at 9.26.06 AMNowThis Food

  • Group Nine Media's digital video brand NowThis is going after the food space with a new channel called NowThis Food.
  • The channel has soup brand Campbell's as its founding sponsor.
  • Unlike other social food publishers however, NowThisFood will steer clear of purely recipe-focused content, and will instead highlight food as it relates to culture, communities and the environment.

There's a new food-focused digital media contender on the block.

Group Nine Media's digital video brand NowThis is rolling out NowThis Food, its latest digital video channel centered around all things gastronomic. Except, unlike other social food video publishers that overindex on food porn (think closeup videos of gorgeous deserts being made at high speed), NowThis Food is dedicated to showcasing food as it relates to culture, communities and the environment.

In other words, instead of recipes and how-to videos, you're more likely to see videos showing people who grow your food to personal stories of those who prepare what you eat, as well as the impact food has on communities on NowThis Food. So for example, take a video highlighting the benefits of camel milk, or one showcasing a millennial entrepreneur-duo from Oakland trying to teach kids about food sustainability.

"While there are tons of players in the food space, we didn't see any meaningful programming around food catered toward millennials that isn't just how you create this recipe or how do you cook this dish," NowThis president Athan Stephanopoulos told Business Insider. "It's not like we'll have no recipes, but our videos will never be recipe-driven."

The plan is for NowThis Food to focus on themes that it already knows its audience is passionate about. The publisher has previously dabbled in videos exploring the intersection of food, culture and society in other verticals and seen promising results, including a recent 10-part branded series "Real, Real Life" for soup brand Campbell's which was viewed over 50 million times.

It is no surprise then that Campbell's has signed on as NowThis Food's launch partner. NowThis staffers will be producing its own independent editorial content as well as branded social video content on behalf of Campbell's, spanning its portfolio of brands. These stories will explore food news as well as food waste and sustainability - two core initiatives of Campbell's corporate social responsibility efforts.

"NowThis shares our passion for exploring recipes, new food trends and uncovering the stories behind the people making real food," said Yin Woon Rani, Vice President, Chief Consumer Experience Officer, Campbell Soup Company. "Their platform provides the perfect opportunity for our brand to speak to the millennial audience in a very unique way."

The Campbell's-NowThis Food partnership is the latest example of marketers looking for innovative and less intrusive ways to reach consumers. While marketers frequently run sponsored stories and work with publications on custom content, NowThis has already built channels from scratch with paying advertisers. Back in July, for instance, it launched NowThis Money in partnership with Chase to help millennials navigate personal-finance.

NowThis has managed to build out a robust social video distribution network, which makes it an attractive bet for marketers. NowThis News and NowThis Politics, for instance, are the third and fourth largest video channels on Facebook in terms of engagement, according to Newswhip. But diving into food isn't going to be a cakewalk. 

The new publication is entering entering the fray to compete with viral players like BuzzFeed's Tasty and Tastemade in the food space, which garner millions of views for each video they post. In the last 90 days itself, Tasty had 2.9 billion views, Food Network had 2.6 billion views and Tastemade had 1.7 billion views on Facebook each, according to data crunched by Tubular Labs. 

Stephanopoulos hopes the distinct focus will help NowThis Food stand out.

"When young people, particularly millennials, think about food, it's not just recipes," he said. "Food sustainability and waste are topics they are thinking about a lot more too."

NowThis Food is the eleventh sub-brand under the NowThis umbrella, and will churn out at least three videos a day on Facebook and Instagram seven days a week, which will be produced by a team of three producers dedicated to the vertical. The team will be most closely watching for "quality" metrics like watch time and engagement, that is how long they're watching the videos and how much they're sharing them.

Campbell's is the founding sponsor, but the vertical could partner with other brands in the future, said Stephanopoulos. Rest assured, the vertical will be sticking to NowThis' tried-and-tested playbook for creating viral, social videos: vibrant visuals with lots of text on-screen.

"We don't want to deviate too much," said Stephanopoulos. "It's hard enough to build a new brand in a distribution model, and we want people to know it's us and our DNA instinctively."

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