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Condé Nast rolls out paywalls across US titles using New Yorker and Wired models

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

January 23, 2019 | 4 min read

Condé Nast US, the publisher of prominent mags like GQ and Vogue, is putting its entire portfolio behind paywalls as the company explores a future beyond ad revenues.

As well as being a means to drive digital subscriptions and create a rich bedrock of user data, the move could also help the publisher combat recent financial loses (which clocked in at $120m in 2017).

Condé Nast US titles embrace paywalls using New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair models

The move could also help the publisher combat recent financial loses

The play also serves as "an important step in the evolution" of the company Condé Nast chief executive and president Bob Sauerberg told staff in an internal email Wednesday 23 January.

He announced that the paywalls would be rolled out across all of its US titles by the end of 2019.

The strategy, he said, was first commenced with the 2014 decision to put The New Yorker behind a paywall. Having tested the strategy work there, and at Wired, and Vanity Fair, Sauerberg is confident that "[readers] are willing to pay for the quality content we create, and the performance of those paywalls has exceeded our expectations".

With the implementation of the paywalls, the company changes how it measures audience engagement from "time spent" to "money spent".

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Each title will develop its own paywall, pricing and sample strategies based on demand and performance. He says: "We will let consumer demand and engagement dictate how each brand develops their paid content strategy"

Some will be gated, others will adopt a wider metered paywall.

Sauerberg concluded: "Our brands are the most influential in the world, our audiences are loyal and engaged and our position in the industry enables us to make this statement about the value of our content."

It comes as the company hunts for a new chief executive to replace outgoing Sauerberg. Last year the company announced it will sell Brides, Golf Digest and W titles while simultaneously ceasing a regular print edition of Glamour magazine as it struggles to adapt to the digital economy.

The group is also looking to draw brands to its creative consultancy output, a popular move in the media space that helps to diversify income and utilise talent and insight that is theoretically already inhouse.

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