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Vertical video is going to be a focus for Mashable.
The digital publisher on Thursday unveiled a new video product called Mashable Reels designed specifically for the way most people hold their mobile phones. With a look and feel very similar to the Stories feature that Snapchat popularized, which allows people to swipe through different videos and text graphics, Reels will allow Mashable to create interactive videos around different topics. The product is launching with Sprint and McDonald’s signed on as partners for videos that focus on Mars, Wonder Woman and Game of Thrones.
“We very strongly believe that the future of video will look nothing like the past,” says Gregory Gittrich, chief content officer at Mashable. “Video is going to be consumed more on your phone than on your television.” Pete Cashmore, Mashable founder and CEO, adds that Mashable is “probably not going to be better at making a show for the television. The question becomes ‘What can you do differently in digital?'”
Mashable was to announce Reels at its NewFront presentation at the Gansevoort Hotel in New York on Thursday, an event also expected to highlight the technology it developed in-house to target specific audiences. That product, Kilogram, is being made available to Mashable’s brand partners looking to target everyday influencers, those people who share stories and videos frequently and impact the viewing habits of their followers and friends, and the people who are likely to be influenced or will respond to a brand’s message.
The company also has partnerships in the works with online writing site Wattpad and Crackle. With Wattpad, a community for self-published stories, Mashable will work to identify, develop and distribute pilots based on original IP. Mashable will distribute the projects either on its own social and video channels or will look to sell the projects to buyers in the digital video space. Meanwhile, it has teamed with Sony’s Crackle to produce video that will complement original series, including StartUp.
Mashable’s event comes a little more than a year after the company announced plans to cut its news and politics divisions as it refocused on entertainment, culture and tech verticals and made a push into video — fueled by a $15 million investment from Turner. Cashmore, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Mashable’s NewFront, explains that the shift helped Mashable grow its revenue by 36 percent last year and saw video views increase fivefold. “Pop culture is web culture now,” he says, explaining the focus on those three content buckets.
Gittrich adds that Mashable is still finding ways to cover important news. “The entertainment collision with politics is very much in our wheelhouse, but we’re not interested in being the first to give you the results,” he says. “The big shift was not trying to be all things to all people.” He notes that content production has declined by 29 percent over the last year but that engagement has grown by more than 30 percent.
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