By the end of this year, every Condé Nast title based in the U.S. will have a paywall.
But the paywalls, for brands that range from Vogue and GQ to Bon Appétit and LGBTQ site, them, won’t be a “one-size fits all model,” Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg told staffers in a memo.
It’s a trick taken out of The New Yorker’s book, which was the first Condé brand to put up a metered paywall in front of content in Nov. 2014. Since then, other Condé Nast brands got on board, with Wired launching a paywall in February last year and Vanity Fair following suit in April.
“These paywalls have proven the ultimate measure of our audience engagement—beyond time spent, it’s money spent,” Sauerberg said in the memo.
Sauerberg is stepping down from his position once a new CEO is named to lead a newly combined Condé Nast and Condé Nast International. Despite his departure, the company has said it’s still committed to an aggressive five-year plan Sauerberg has outlined to generate $600 million in new revenue.
Sauerberg said it would let “consumer demand” and “engagement” inform what type of paywall each brand offers.
Evp of consumer marketing Monica Ray told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, that a paywall might be treated differently for brands like Bon Appétit, which has a lot of recipes or Architectural Digest for its archive of photos. Chief revenue and marketing officer Pamela Drucker Mann told the Journal that she didn’t expect any of the brands to lose its digital audience behind a paywall.
“Some brands may have specific content that will be gated, and some will have a wider metered paywall,” Sauerberg said in the memo. “Every brand is distinct, and every brand’s paywall will be its own distinct product.”
Paywalls and membership models have been launched by countless media organizations as of late. And it hasn’t been coincidental that publishers are making the move in this era of consumers growing accustomed to regularly paying for content (looking at you, Netflix). Publishers get loyal readers, data on them and funding for its journalism. Take The New Yorker’s year of exemplary journalism, for example.
“If that wasn’t funded by consumers, would we have gotten the Ronan Farrow exposés?” John Wagner, group director, published media for PHD, previously told Adweek.
It’s just a matter of how many subscriptions readers are willing to take on and when we’ll hit “that tipping point,” he said then.