Has Conde Nast Finally Seen the Internet Light?

voguenet.pngIs Conde Nast finally ready to set foot in the land called Internet? You will recall the company had a rough ride last November, all but shuttering Men’s Vogue and laying off more than three dozen staffers from CondeNet, its online division — a move which caused observers to ponder Conde’s “tortured relationship” with the Internet and habit of using its sites merely as a portal to sell more magazines. Well looks like this attitude may be getting an overhaul (and not a minute too soon!).

AdAge reports (full press release after the jump) that CondeNet is set to be eliminated altogether and that its functions (the aforementioned selling of ad space) will be consolidated, along with the rest of the company’s digital operations, under Conde Nast Digital, to be run by Sarah Chubb former president of CondeNet. Says one media buyer: “For the advertiser, this will help streamline the conversation to get the deals done in a more timely basis — one-stop shopping vs. multiple contact points.”

It will be an uphill battle, for sure. We are, after all, talking about a company that has yet to launch a website for Vogue, one of its flagships titles, or brand the one they have, Style.com (an idea whose time has passed), with familiar, Internet friendly Vogue features like the ‘Index’ section. That said, even the magazines that do have sites are struggling: apparently only 11 have surpassed the Nielsen threshold last year, with Wired (perhaps not surprisingly considering the strength of their blogs) topping the list. Full press release below.

New York, NY, January 26, 2009 — Conde Nast is consolidating all of its digital assets into a single unit called Conde Nast Digital (CND), it was announced today by Charles H. Townsend, President and C.E.O. of Conde Nast. Sarah Chubb, formerly President of CondeNet, will be President of the new digital unit, reporting to Mr. Townsend.

This new unit creates a more efficient way for the company to leverage its digital business and combine that with the unique vertical opportunities it brings to advertisers. The move also allows for a more streamlined approach to growing revenue across the company’s digital assets as well as aiding print ad sales through the integration of on-line and print sales and marketing.

Digital media buyers will now have a more efficient way to work with Conde’s digital assets through a dedicated sales team. Corporate level advertisers will be able to address digital commitments and opportunities with Conde Nast Media Group (CNMG) Sales Directors as part of their overall relationship with Conde Nast. The CND unit will incorporate the CondeNet sites including Epicurious.com, NutritionData.com, Concierge.com, HotelChatter.com, Jaunted.com, Style.com, Men.Style.com, Wired.com, Reddit, Ars Technica, and Webmonkey, as well as the individual magazine branded websites, and Brides.com, a bridal destination site. WWD.com will remain part of the Fairchild Fashion Group, the Company’s B2B unit.

“This move is really a convergence of our strong individual digital businesses into the larger Conde Nast media company,” Mr. Townsend said. “Unifying all of our valuable digital assets under this direction maximizes the strength and scale of our digital offering and also enhances their critical contribution to the power of our print businesses. This is a growth based consolidation, not a cost cutting consolidation.”

“In today’s marketplace advertisers are looking for substantial scale, ease of buying, and the ability to measure user engagement,” Ms. Chubb said. “Combining all of the company’s digital assets under one umbrella allows Conde Nast to have the unique advantage of possessing all three of these essential components.”

“This consolidation and alignment of our assets, allows The Conde Nast Media Group to maximize our revenues and bolsters our position as a formidable player within the multi-media arena,” Richard Beckman said, President, Conde Nast Media Group & CMO, Conde Nast.

Conde Nast, a unit of Advance Publications, includes twenty-four consumer magazines, Conde Nast Digital, the Fairchild Fashion Group, Parade, the Conde Nast Media Group, and the Shared Services Centers.