Legacy media is in a transitional moment as ad spending shifts from print to digital, causing media companies to reallocate resources. Executives from magazine publishers such as Condé Nast, Time Inc. and Hearst have underlined the importance of this transition by staffing up web teams and putting more emphasis on online strategy.
So how’s that working out? WWD decided to check in and see how the web traffic has been over the past year, ending in April 2017 — the most recent data available from comScore. According to a year’s worth of data for Vogue, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, W, Glamour, Allure and InStyle, April wasn’t the strongest month for any of the seven titles examined. Still, it offers a useful snapshot.
For example, it turns out there is truth to all those stories about Teen Vogue finding success online — even as the print publication reduced frequency. Condé Nast’s teen title had a huge win over the past year. A year ago, Teen Vogue ranked near the bottom of the pack of the fashion and women’s titles analyzed. Now it is number two. According to comScore, it has seen a 176 percent increase in web traffic, from 3.3 million unique visitors in April 2016 to 9.1 million in April 2017. February was the best traffic month for the title, with 9.3 million uniques. The so-called “Trump Bump” helped buoy Teen Vogue in the months following the presidential election — sending traffic from 5.5 million uniques in November to 7.7 million in December, on the heels of writer Lauren Duca’s viral op-ed about gaslighting. And the upswing continued.
The past year has been less positive for older sister Vogue.com, which boasts one of the biggest digital newsrooms at Condé Nast. Although traffic increased, it was a less notable 25.6 percent, from a little more than five million unique visitors in April 2016 to just under 6.6 million in April 2017. Still, at least traffic went up.
Glamour, once Condé’s strongest digital brand, saw a decrease of 1.6 percent, from 7.6 million unique visitors in April 2016 to 7.5 million in April 2017. The blow is less dramatic considering that some months saw higher traffic at Glamour, such as October 2016, with 11.2 million uniques; February 2017 with 10 million, and March 2016, which garnered 9.9 million uniques.
Allure.com, which like Teenvogue.com is now overseen by digital director Phillip Picardi, had a good year with traffic increasing 53 percent, from 4.5 million in April 2016 to 6.9 million in April 2017.
The good news for W is that its traffic nearly doubled between April 2016 and April 2017. The bad news? It only saw 767,000 unique visitors in April 2016. But a year later, it got close to 1.2 million unique visitors, topping out in December when traffic climbed to 3.3 million.
Now over to Hearst, where digital has been so separate from print that the online team is often in a different building and web stories are frequently given new headlines and shared between titles.
Cosmopolitan, under site director Amy Odell, has consistently been a top performer among online women’s magazine titles. The site saw a 6 percent decrease between April 2016, when it had just shy of 15 million uniques and April 2017, with slightly more than 14 million. But it still outpaced the competition. And there were months that saw spikes in traffic, such as October, when the site got 18.8 million uniques. Even February saw a good deal of traffic with more than 16 million uniques.
Elle.com did pretty well, jumping from 5.9 million unique visitors in April 2016 to 7.2 million in April 2017. Along the way, there were some standout months — Elle.com saw 12.7 million unique visitors in December and more than 11 million in both January and February.
Harper’s Bazaar was down 15 percent, from 5.2 million in April 2016 to 4.4 million in April 2017. Worth noting, however, is that the site garnered 6.4 million unique visitors in March 2017.
Time Inc.’s women’s title InStyle, meanwhile, saw a 35 percent decrease between April 2016 and April 2017, going from 6.7 million uniques to 4.4 million in April 2017. Like many others, InStyle.com’s best month was December, when it saw 8.2 million visitors. Overall, though, the less than stellar traffic was a clear signal for InStyle’s new team, which, helmed by editor in chief Laura Brown, has made a slew of digitally savvy hires in recent months.