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Condé Nast's Bob Sauerberg Talks Content Strategy

The publisher's president gave a presentation Wednesday morning at the PaidContent conference in New York.

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BUILDING A NEW MODEL: “The format of choice for consumers is still print,” Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg explained Wednesday morning. And so it is for Condé.

Apps, Web sites, tablets? They’re all dandy, showing some “real growth potential,” in Sauerberg’s words. But they’re no match for the dollars coming out of traditional magazine subscriptions.

“A lot of what we’ve done has been focused on making sure that we have a business in digital that looks like print, and that we become agnostic to consumer preferences,” he said.

Sauerberg, speaking at the PaidContent conference in Manhattan, spent the early half of Wednesday previewing the publisher’s plan to change the way readers consume and subscribe to its magazines. He said more formal plans will be fully revealed this summer.

The publisher intends to offer tiered or bundled subscriptions in the future, he said, each with access to different products, from online archives to what he described as “branded experiences.”

For instance, the publisher is exploring how to “productize” magazines’ archives, now mostly available digitally to print and tablet subscribers.

“Over time we expect [readers] will be paying more and getting more content from us,” he said.

With the focus on bulking up subscriptions, Condé’s digital products, he said, serve as a “gateway to our brand.”

They allow the publisher “to transition the way we create consumer offerings, bundles and different subscription products.”

“We’re all fighting for game discoverability,” Sauerberg said. “What all content makers need to get behind is the different ways you can find our content.”

Sauerberg’s mantra since becoming president has been balance, narrowing the gap between consumer and advertising revenue. To that extent, he’s sought out alternative revenue streams from e-commerce, licensing and, through the new entertainment division, movie and television projects. Created eight months ago, he has high hopes for the entertainment division’s Dawn Ostroff and her team.

“We have a chance to really build a big business taking branded and unbranded content, the access our editors have to talent, building on the DNA of who we are and build a terrific high-quality video business for us,” Sauerberg said.

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