Condé Nast US, the publisher of iconic magazines like GQ, Vogue has decided to put its Magazines behind digital paywalls by 2020. The decision comes as the company is exploring a future beyond ad revenues. Condé Nast has already done this for 3 of its magazines, The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair. They plan to extend it to other brands which include online-only magazines like Ars Technica and Teen Vogue.
Condé Nast’s Paywall Strategy
Condé Nast announced that they paywalls will be implemented across all its US titles by the end of 2019. The decision comes as a way to drive digital subscriptions and create a rich bedrock of user data. This decision will help the publishers combat recent financial loss. With the paywall strategy, consumers will have to pay a monthly sum to be able to access more than 4 articles each month. Condé Nast has been able to successfully implement the paywall strategy to 3 of its tile. In 2014 they put The New Yorker behind a paywall. The publisher has also implemented the strategy to Wired and Vanity Fair.
Condé Nast plans to build the digital subscription business around its other magazines which will include Vogue, GQ, Bon Appetit and Glamour. The implementation of the paywall strategy will change the way the publisher measures its audience engagement. It will change from time spent to money spent. Condé Nast will develop a different paywall, pricing and sample strategy for each of its titles. They will be using the consumer demand and engagements to determine how each title develops its paid content strategy. Some of the titles will be gated while others will adopt a wider metered paywall strategy.
Would this be a Profitable Venture for Condé Nast?
Condé Nast has confidence that their paywalls decision will be profitable and won’t cause a loss in readers. Their test run with the 3 other magazines backs up the decision. According to stats, The New Yorker increased its paid subscription revenue by 69% between 2015 and 2018. But according to The Wall Street Journal, traffic gains haven’t been consistent across paywalled publications. For Wired and Vanity Fair, The newspaper noted that the two magazines saw online audience grow by 12% and shrink by 3% even though they launched their paywalls less than a year ago.
The CEO Bob Sauerberg said “Our brands are the most influential in the world, our audiences are loyal and engaged and our position in the industry enables us to make this statement about the value of our content. The chief revenue and marketing Pamela Drucker Mann also spoke on the decision. She stated that when a price tag is put on something, it means you have confidence in the product, which they have. She also stated that she didn’t expect that th brands will lose digital audiences.