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Condé Nast Looks to Break Out of Publishing's Digital Doldrums

New content management system to help titles do more with less
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Last fall, Condé Nast finally gave its publishers control over ad sales for their own websites, something they'd been waiting on for a long time. Now, the company is about to fulfill a similar promise for its editorial side.

A couple of years after the prestige publisher started launching companion websites for its magazines, it’s preparing to roll out a new online publishing system across its titles, including Vogue, Lucky, and GQ.

“We’re going to hand more creative control back to the magazine staff,” Joe Simon, the company’s chief technology officer, told Adweek.

The adoption of the new system, Adobe Day’s CQ5, is expected to speed up the process of updating the websites, allowing them to publish more digital-only content, and more easily. The current system has been criticized as cumbersome because it involved help from a separate entity, Condé Nast Digital. Condé also sees CQ5 as a way to streamline workflow—not an insignificant point, now that the company's titles have to pump out content for more platforms despite having essentially the same staff as before.

This happy development for the Web side of the business comes a year after Condé Nast started making its titles available on the iPad, with limited success. The industry embraced the Apple tablet, hoping that it might help make up for their declining print business. But sales volumes on the iPad for Condé Nast and its peers have turned out to be small as most publishers have been limited to selling single issues.

The adoption of a new Web publishing system also furthers Condé Nast’s close relationship with Adobe, which it worked with as it developed magazine editions for the iPad. The goal is for all of Condé Nast’s magazine sites to be on the new Adobe platform by the end of 2012. Lucky is the first to go to the new platform, as early as mid-May.

In addition to publishing new content to its site every day, Lucky will be able to make significant changes to the site every couple of weeks, with an eye to driving a bigger, more engaged audience. “It essentially unties the hands of our editorial team ... to create more page layouts, more areas for users to participate,” said Maura Randall, Lucky’s digital managing director.