Today Folio magazine posted an interview with Drew Schutte, senior vice president and chief revenue officer of Condé Nast Digital, about the direction of Condé Nast online and the future of the publishing company.
Unsurprisingly, Schutte was defensive about Folio‘s assertion that Si Newhouse’s titles have been late to adapt to the whole World Wide Web thing. At the same time, Schutte’s reassertion of the old Condé adage that the Internet will never replace magazines and that any digital content is merely a “supplement” to the print product is really starting to sound stale, considering the major losses Condé’s print editions have suffered lately.
Read on for some key points from Schutte’s interview
Condé is as old as Internet Explorer:
FOLIO: While Condé Nast has been called a “late bloomer” in the digital realm, some of the recent changes, including the folding of Men.Style.com and launches of Details.com and GQ.com, suggest a focus on each magazine brand having a distinct voice online. How does that play into overall brand strategy?
Schutte: I don’t think of Condé Nast as a late bloomer in the digital realm. CondéNet was started in 1995, and Epicurious.com is celebrating its 15th birthday this year, making us as old as Yahoo! and Internet Explorer.
Advertisers will buy for print if they also get an online package:
FOLIO: What do these changes mean for the print magazines?
Schutte: As a company, we continue to stay focused on both print and online. We believe there is a tremendous future in both print and digital, and especially in the two together, as more advertisers want integrated programs. We’ve seen an increase from 8 percent of advertisers buying integrated programs last year to 15 percent this year. Approximately 30 percent of the top advertisers buy both print and digital.
And they might be hiring!
FOLIO: After all the layoffs we’ve read about/reported at Condé Nast, is the company hiring now on the digital side? If so, what positions? What will the focus be?
Schutte: We are hiring on an as needed basis in multiple areas including sales, marketing, business development and creative services…: We continue to look for people, both from the print side, and those with an online background, who have a track record of success and a deep understanding of the digital world.
While it’s true that CondéNet has been around forever, it was also hopelessly outdated and was losing a lot of money. Hence, the name change and reorganization to Condé Nast Digital, which has created all those nice flash sites for Details.com and GQ.com as well recently split its online advertising department into five different brands. On the other hand, the mindset that online sites should be used as “supplements” for the print magazines instead of standing as their own product has always held Condé back from truly advancing in the digital arena (see also: Portfolio, which had a great web presence with smart bloggers like Jeff Bercovici, but was starved out of existence with the focus on the failing print edition). If he can see past old Condé Nast thinking, maybe Schutte can help usher in a new digital era at 4 Times Square.