Media firms that used to call themselves magazine companies now reject the term in favor of a more generalized content company approach. And they're getting serious about programmatic advertising.
Take Condé Nast, the company that puts out Vogue, GQ, Glamour and Vanity Fair. It made a foray into digital in 1998 when it bought Wired magazine, but even then it was tentative because it did not acquire the accompanying web property, HotWired, which has its own history.
But that was then. By 2011, Condé Nast was announcing a magazine company first: a private advertising exchange for its digital clients in partnership with Admeld. Clients included eBay and Macy’s.
Now, Condé Nast has hired Evan Adlman as head of programmatic advertising for the company, and it is advertising for a platform specialist to help it navigate across myriad platforms. I talked to Adlman this week.
Although media companies can’t compete with Facebook or Google in page views, Adlman asserts that “Condé Nast is home to some of the most iconic brands in the world, and has been creating and curating unique opportunities for advertisers to connect with premium audiences for decades.
This type of access, coupled with the first-party data we have on our consumers, offers a huge advantage for us in the marketplace. Now with the launch of AudienceSelect, we can enable an advertiser to have massive reach by leveraging our data off-network and off-property.”
Like most magazines, Conde Nast’s content primarily targets women, though it does have iconic men’s brands like GQ. Adlman says the company is working on unique access for programmatic clients.
“We have enabled premium access for programmatic buyers, allowing them to have a full look at the inventory, which provides the highest chance of matching a user. Additionally, we have created new content packages that enable the advertiser to connect to culture in real time for when we create or curate a story that goes viral past our predictions. We consider this the last two minutes of the basketball game, or access to the first spot in overtime,” he notes.
The company has also just relaunched its Vogue mobile app, and plans to add more for its other titles this year.
A few months ago, GQ began a pop-up program on its Web site that asks ad-blocking-enabled users to either disable the program or pay 50 cents for each article. Other magazines, such as Forbes, have tried similar approaches. But Adlman isn’t planning to institute a policy like that across the spectrum of Condé Nast's online offerings.
On August 20, a group of 20 Swedish publishers plan a joint campaign to block users equipped with ad blocking software. But Adlman doesn’t think this kind of joint approach would work in the U.S., or across Condé Nast’s properties. “We don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution [for ad blocking], and have been experimenting with different approaches,” he says.
Condé Nast announced an international ecommerce business in the U.K. late last year, built around its Style.com. And comScore places it as No. 15 in its top 100 properties, putting it ahead of Vox Media, Hearst, ESPN, BuzzFeed, New York Times Digital and others. The company also recently brought together the online Wired News (as it's called now) and Wired magazine, uniting them for the first time in quite a while — perhaps a fitting example of Condé Nast as a holistic online entity to be reckoned with.