Major Magazine Publishers Making Major News

Hearst, Time Inc., and Conde Nast are the major magazine publishers that were the busiest in 2015, and they have big things ahead

We do our best work with niche publishers and legacy publishers looking to become digital publishers, but we also like to monitor major magazine publishers’ successes and setbacks, because at the end of the day, they’re still the leaders of the pack and the pace cars for media companies.

They also have the money to experiment heavily, whether with digital content or digital advertising (or both), which can be instructive for smaller or startup publishers looking for best practices and cautionary tales.

In 2015, we covered Hearst, Time Inc., and Conde Nast with some regularity, because it was a watershed year for those giants’ digital efforts. It was the year multiplatform publishing — our calling card — went mainstream, with major magazine publishers throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the problems brought on by plummeting print revenues.

Of these, Time Inc. was a particularly interesting case study, because after spinning off from Time-Warner, they undertook an admirably ambitious and out-of-the-box campaign that saw them implementing new strategies, products, and partnerships seemingly every week, all in an effort to stay atop the publishing hill while at the same time taking the industry to new heights. It was like watching a smaller startup publisher try to survive its early days.

Women’s Wear Daily has the latest from Time Inc. digital, as well as from Conde Nast and Hearst as business ramps up in 2016.

Hearst Memo Marks Revenue Growth, Magazine Content Management

According to Hearst head honcho Steve Swartz, the company grew revenue 6% to 10.7 billion in 2015, reports.

“Despite all the crowing about a record-breaking year, the ceo did admit that “cutting through the clutter” in consumer media is the company’s ‘preeminent challenge.’ Hearst hopes to slash through the thicket with live sports events via ESPN, by using Cosmopolitan’s “unique voice” for young women and Sweet, its new Snapchat channel led by Cosmo’s editor in chief Joanna Coles,” Alexandra Steigrad writes.

“Nonetheless, Hearst said it would continue to invest in core operations. The company noted that it spent about $150 million in 2015 on projects such as the development of digital publishing platform MediaOS for all of its consumer media mobile and Web properties.”

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Time Inc. Digital Rolls Out Yet Another New Product

Real Time, a new ad product from Time Inc., powered by SocialFlow, that promises its advertisers a shot at claiming social audience via responsive retargeting, is debuting with Volvo as its first client, reports.

“Like its publishing rivals, Time Inc. is in the process of building its digital advertising capabilities in an effort to grab new dollars and backstop losses stemming from the decline of print-centric revenue,” Steigrad writes.

“Although chairman and chief executive officer Joe Ripp acknowledged the difficult environment, he said Time Inc. is looking for a ‘path to profitable growth’ for each title, which includes developing new digital advertising streams, e-commerce and a strong live events business.”

Of All Major Magazine Publishers, Conde Nast Is Seeing Most Personnel Changes…

Fascinating story by Steigrad on Conde Nast’s tumultuous but ultimately successful year behind the scenes, full of gossip, hires and fires, and industry trend reporting relevant to Mequoda Members and other publishing executives.

“Whatever the conflicts of 2015, the company’s execs are charged with accelerating its digital transformation. Although that transition has been in the works for some time, it was kicked into overdrive when Condé said in September that [Bob] Sauerberg, who was appointed president in 2010, would succeed Chuck Townsend as ceo. His past work perhaps gave employees a sense of ease, as he often talked about and executed on building the company’s digital reach through acquisitions, such as Pitchfork Media, new business initiatives that included the development of Condé Nast Entertainment, 23Stories, its branded-content unit and the relaunched e-commerce site,,” Steigrad writes.

“Alongside Sauerberg, [Artistic Director Anna] Wintour has played a strategic role in shaping the editorial content of the company to skew digital. … The digital focus has begun to pay off. From December 2014 to November 2015, Condé Nast digital, which includes all its titles plus Reddit, has logged on average 84.6 million unique visitors a month, according to ComScore. This compared with traffic for the same period a year ago of 58.4 million, resulting in a 44.8 percent increase.”

… Including Their Latest Hire of Conde International VP

Elizabeth Schimel, formerly of Meredith and Next Issue Media, has been promoted to vice president of Conde Nast International, where she will continue overseeing Conde Nast China operations as well as other responsibilities with Vogue, Self, GQ, and Condé Nast Traveler, reports.

Looking to join the ranks of major magazine publishers or just to dominate your niche? Start by checking out our free Mequoda CEO Institute Program Guide

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