Conde Nast Increases Multiplatform Publishing Appeal with Memberships

Print enthusiasts turn to tech properties to build multiplatform publishing empires through memberships and events

As Lucia Moses at Digiday put it, “In the quest for new sources of revenue, publishers have been launching subscription programs and events series.”

Moses reports, “Condé Nast’s Wired Media Group, consisting of Wired, Ars Technica and Backchannel, is going a step further. It’s launching a membership program for executives who want to stay on the cutting edge of technology. For $4,000 a year, members of the Emerging Technology Council (and up to four of their colleagues) get access to in-person and virtual events where they can hear presentations by tech startups; join a 24/7 online community; receive a newsletter (likely monthly) and other perks. The first event, set to take place in January, will be a virtual discussion on intelligence and machine learning with Ars Technica founder and editor in chief Ken Fisher.”

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Kim Kelleher, CRO of the Wired Media Group says, “If you’re brand that’s a leading influencer, you can see an opportunity to deeply engage with the tip of the pyramid.” Pyramid, you say? At Mequoda we love using the Mequoda Pyramid to represent consumer attraction and revenue generation. The Mequoda Media Pyramid supports the notion that media products have a natural hierarchy.

Publishers implementing a vertically integrated strategy begin the base of their pyramid with free media. They create many free products in many formats and recycle, reuse, and republish content. Finally, they are able to pull customers up the pyramid to maximize profit. When you hear the word “pyramid” in the world of business, your thoughts may go in a different direction but at Mequoda, we’ve found a pyramid to be the best way to show how any publishing business makes money. Like an upside-down funnel, you have your largest audience at the bottom, typically your non-paid users, and as you grow toward the top, you can see how your users eventually convert into paid users for products at higher price points. Each succeeding audience is a smaller group accessing the platform, while their investment of time and money goes up.

And with this strategy, Conde Nast is definitely bringing consumers to the tippity top of their pyramid. Moses reports that Erick Schonfeld, also the former editor of TechCrunch, “said he got the idea for the format when he saw that conferences didn’t do a great job at keeping people connected in between events.”

“From the point of view of the event organizer, you’re essentially starting from scratch every time,” he said.

“The model he came up with blends industry conferences with a peer-to-peer leadership council. It has similarities to ones offered by National Journal, which charges $5,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on the size of the organization, for specialized research and tools plus networking events. Slate has Slate Plus, which gives members special access to its journalists and events for $35 a year. Community is part of the benefit of the $399-a-year subscription to The Information,” reports Moses.

To keep the ship afloat, Moses says, “Having an ongoing membership program requires extra caretaking; the Wired Media Group program will have 10 people dedicated to it, six from the media group and four from TTP, not including Wired Media Group editors who will participate in the virtual events. Then there’s challenge of selling the program itself.”

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