A DIGITAL SHAKEUP: After months of waiting, Condé Nast said on Tuesday afternoon that publishers will finally get full control of their Web sites, while Condé Nast Digital will become a shell of what it once was.
Ad sales and marketing efforts for Condé’s sites will be transferred from Condé Nast Digital to the individual publishers in the coming months. Publishers have been craving this moment for a while. “We have been clamoring to get more control of the sites,” said one.
A big winner from Tuesday’s announcement appears to be chief marketing director Lou Cona. The move puts Condé Nast Digital’s remaining sales and marketing operations under the umbrella of the Condé Nast Media Group, which Cona heads. It’ll be up to Cona’s group to sell across digital brands. Drew Schutte, who had been chief revenue officer at Condé Nast Digital, will now serve as a point man between individual brand publishers and the media group as chief integration officer, and will report to Cona. Internet sales group publisher Josh Stinchcomb will assume the title of vice president of digital sales for Condé Nast and also report to Cona.
Sarah Chubb, the president of Condé Nast Digital, loses much of her power and will now oversee content and operations for sites like brides.com, Epicurious and Reddit. Condé Nast Digital chief operating officer Debi Chirichella will oversee financial operations for all the company’s Web sites and digital offerings, and, like Chubb, will report to company president Bob Sauerberg. (In her role as chief operating officer of Fairchild Fashion Group, Chirichella also reports to chief executive officer Gina Sanders.)
The writing on the wall about Condé Nast Digital’s future became even clearer this week when Style.com was transferred out of that division and joined the Fairchild Fashion Group. Also, on Monday, Condé Nast said all of its future tablet devices will be developed by Adobe, and not by Condé Nast Digital, which had built out apps for GQ, Glamour and Vanity Fair.
Condé Nast chief executive officer Charles Townsend said in an interview the purpose behind the realignment is to find more money, particularly through potential digital revenues. He said that when digital accounted for only 1 percent of revenue at Condé Nast, digital likewise had about a 1 percent “relative” importance to the company. Now that digital revenue represents close to 10 percent of total revenue, he said it’s becoming his primary focus.
“Let me get this piece out of the way,” he said. “This is not a restructuring or a head count reduction or cost saving. That’s what we went through in 2009 and that was a pure restructuring. This is really driven by the marketplace and the practicality of the marketplace. This is bringing the breadth of our assets together in one seamless way.”
— John Koblin and Matthew Lynch