Condé Nast’s Digital Push

By November 15, 2012News

Condé Nast chief executive officer Charles Townsend at a recent interview with the Paley Center vaguely alluded to an upcoming rate-base hike in four of the publisher’s magazines. “That’s an incredible move,” he said.

At the time, only Wired had revealed the circulation increase. Condé Nast has now confirmed the others: The New Yorker, Details and Allure, which is promising advertisers it will now reach 1.1 million readers.

“Our print business has been growing faster than anyone’s. But this is four brands that are raising their rate base,” Condé president Bob Sauerberg said. “It is a bold thing to do.”

The simultaneous hike is unusual in these current print-woebegone days, something more likely to have happened last century. These days, publishers normally make such an announcement to communicate vitality — something Condé, like all publishers, is eager to do. (Condé noted the circulations of Details and Allure are going up because of sponsored promotions with retailers — the chain Ulta in the beauty magazine’s case.)

The more notable development here is that Condé said it’s raising the circulations of both Wired and The New Yorker by 25,000 each on the strength of their tablet businesses. Two years after both magazines created iPad replicas, the publisher is starting to see results at many of its titles, Sauerberg said.

“The numbers are really starting to scale,” he said, adding that by the end of the year, digital subscriptions will be well more than 1 million.

Like most major publishers, Condé Nast took a while to create a digital business. “Prerecession, we didn’t have to fool around with the digital business because of the rate of growth in the print business,” Townsend explained at the Paley Center. But then the recession shaved off 40 percent of the company’s revenue, and it was time to reorganize. Sauerberg was brought in to find new business besides print. “The postrecession moment is really the introduction of alternative platforms that take the pressure off print, not replace it,” Townsend said. Read full article