Commentary

Conde Nast Lifts Paywalls As Pandemic Keeps People Home

Condé Nast, whose print and digital titles include Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour and Bon Appetit, has undertaken a global effort to reach online audiences as the coronavirus pandemic keeps billions of people stuck at home, looking for news and entertainment.

The publishing giant's efforts include free access to its websites, special digital issues, email newsletters and articles that help to provide comfort and inspiration as people struggle through the worst crisis since World War II. Gannett, McClatchy, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal also have removed their paywalls on stories about the pandemic.

Condé Nast's campaigns in several countries aim to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures, as hashtags like #stayhome and #staysafe trend on social media, according to information provided to Publishing Insider.

Condé Nast Italy responded quickly after the outbreak slammed into Milan, the country's commercial hub, which has close ties to manufacturing centers in China. It offered free access to its digital titles for three months.
Vanity Fair Italia has published two special editions, including one dedicated to Milan that was distributed for free throughout the city and the surround Lombardy region. The magazine dedicated the second special edition to people working on the front line in the fight against COVID-19, donating profits from the issue to a local hospital.

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In Germany, the publishing giant launched a free download campaign for Vogue, GQ and Architectural Digest (AD), and plans a push campaign offering digital upgrades. Vogue also will have a mailing campaign with "thank you" gifts for readers who answer a survey, according to information provided to Publishing Insider.

Condé Nast India last week launched a newsletter titled “Condé Nast Quarantimes” with more information about COVID-19, and emailed it to readers of Vogue, GQ, CNT and AD. The publisher's #stayathome campaign offered a one-month free subscription to digital issues and its archive.
In Mexico, Russia, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, Condé Nast is running promotions that include a mix of free access to its websites for a limited time.
Its U.S. brands removed paywalls from all coronavirus content as part of an effort to fight misinformation about the illness, while Wired launched a newsletter dedicated to COVID-19 news and updates. Self has practical guidance about reducing anxiety, while Bon Appetit is highlighting recipes for comfort food made with common pantry items.
The publishing industry has seen a surge in digital traffic from housebound readers, though it's difficult to monetize as advertisers cut media spending. However, lifting paywalls, publishing special editions and creating email newsletters provide a chance for magazine brands to engage audiences that want to connect with the outside world. 

Those efforts help to lay the groundwork for future growth when the pandemic subsides.

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