The Young Turks Network has recruited Chris Puckett, formerly of BuzzFeed and Fullscreen, as the first advertising sales executive in the news-focused digital media company’s 10-year-plus history.
Puckett started at TYT on Jan. 4 as VP of advertising and brand partnerships, based in New York. He reports to The Young Turks chief marketing officer Praveen Singh.
Most recently, Puckett was Fullsceen’s East Coast director of brand partnerships and sales, working with clients including Mondelez, Pepsi, American Express, Warner Bros. and Dell. Previously, he was head of sales at BuzzFeed, where he was also the first salesperson hired by the company. Puckett also has worked in sales at Facebook and Google.
“We’ve been focused for years on building audience and content, but we haven’t really focused on ad sales — we’ve let YouTube do the heavy lifting,” TYT Network COO Steve Oh said. “We think Chris is the right guy… He knows how to sell content that is broad and sometimes edgy.”
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TYT largely has relied on video ads sold by YouTube and also sells monthly subscriptions. With Puckett’s hiring, the company plans to sell more direct advertising as well as integrated brand partnerships. Oh said TYT hopes to have a sales team of 6-10 by the end of 2016, led by Puckett.
TYT’s branded-content deals will feature the company’s talent, including founder Cenk Uygur, in segments endorsing sponsors’ products and services. For a news organization, Oh acknowledged, there’s a legitimate concern that reporters might be seen as compromising their integrity by appearing in ads. But he says TYT has been careful to not violate the trust it has with viewers. “We are extremely honest with the audience,” he said. “We never pretend (sponsored content) is news coverage.”
Another recent TYT hire is Jordan Chariton, former media reporter for TheWrap, who joined in December as lead reporter for the 2016 political campaign season.
TYT Network, based in Culver City, Calif., has about 60 employees. The company was founded in 2002 and began posting video on YouTube in 2005. On YouTube, The Young Turks Network generates more than 3 billion total views across its channels, including over 100 million views monthly for the flagship The Young Turks show.