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CONDE JOINS DIGITAL CROWD: Condé Nast made a significant move in its digital future Tuesday with the launch of a new iPhone application for GQ that will not only make money, but is also vetted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the first of its kind to get the agency’s approval. That means sales of the app will count toward the magazine’s rate base.
Amid cost cuts, magazine closures and staff layoffs, Condé Nast also has been criticized for its slow migration to digital, a criticism that even chief executive officer Charles Townsend acknowledged at a meeting to unveil the iPhone offering. But the company has already launched five other iPhone apps for Lucky, Wired, Style.com, Reddit and Epicurious, with the latter already registering 820,000 downloads. The latest one for GQ, developed in-house over three months, will be a fully customizable, interactive version of the magazine, and the technology behind it will be used for other Condé Nast titles. It also gives the company entrée into adapting and applying magazine content to e-readers and tablets of any make. “If you can get here, you can get there,” said Townsend of the e-reader compatibility.
Company executives said the app is part of a larger mission within Condé Nast Digital to create additional distribution channels and new revenue opportunities through advertising, subscriptions and e-commerce. Condé Nast has another 10 iPhone apps in development, but executives were hesitant to predict when ones as comprehensive as GQ’s would launch. Nevertheless, advertisers believe Condé’s participation in the app world is a solid move. “Being attached to Apple and the iPhone is a really good thing,” said ad guru David Lipman — speaking on his iPhone. And though advertisers in GQ’s December issue did not pay more to be included in the program, it did help bring in additional business. “It put Godiva over the hump,” said Lipman. “It was on the bubble, but the iPhone technology made us make that decision [to advertise].”
The app also delivers a measurable, accountable and engaging platform for advertisers, who can provide links to video, Web sites or specific products for users to click through, and even make purchases. Condé Nast hopes to sell ads within the program after it gauges demand for the app.
The GQ application, which replicates the entire December issue, will be available on iTunes for $2.99, and will include touchscreen control, video, music and zoom features that make the screen easily readable. Users can buy music featured within the magazine through iTunes, and the application will include links to Web pages and phone numbers for brands listed in the fashion credits and interstitial advertisements that aren’t in the magazine.
Aside from ad revenue, Condé Nast will earn 70 percent of sales from the GQ application in Apple’s standard revenue sharing deal with developers, and also snag a share of the music sales on iTunes. The company hopes to release the application on Nov. 18, the newsstand on-sale date of GQ’s December issue. — Stephanie D. Smith