Condé Nast is about to see just how much readers value the content coming out of its remaining magazines.
The publisher’s outgoing chief executive officer, Bob Sauerberg, revealed plans to put all of the company’s U.S. magazines appearing online behind a paywall by the end of the year. In a memo to staff, Sauerberg called the move the “next phase” of a strategy that started in 2014, with a paywall for The New Yorker, only adding Wired and Vanity Fair since.
Sauerberg nevertheless wrote that audiences “have proven that they are willing to pay for” content at those brands, adding that “the performance of those paywalls has exceeded our expectations.”
”Put another way, these paywalls have proven the ultimate measure of our audience engagement — beyond time spent, it’s money spent,” Sauerberg wrote.
As for how the paywall will look at the remaining brands, which include the likes of Vogue, Bon Appétit, Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveler (recently combined with its U.K. counterpart), apparently it will vary. Sauerberg, whom Condé is currently looking to replace with a global ceo who will lead a soon-to-be-combined Condé Nast/Condé Nast International, said it will not be a “one-size-fits-all strategy.”
“Just as we did for each of the brands currently behind paywalls, we will let consumer demand and engagement dictate how each brand develops their paid content strategy,” Sauerberg added. “Some brands may have specific content that will be gated, and some will have a wider metered paywall. Every brand is distinct, and every brand’s paywall will be its own distinct product.”
The move to a full subscription model comes as Condé struggles to catch up to the digital wave in media. The company has been operating at a loss for the last several years, after decades spent as the preeminent magazine publisher, amid dwindling print subscriptions and newsstand sales while platforms like Instagram and Twitter usurped readers. The company is said to have finally last year started to stem its losses and gained a foothold in digital ad revenue, but fiscal 2018, which ends this month, is still expected to come out with a loss. Some revenue from digital subscriptions will surely be a welcome addition.
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