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Condé Nast is 2019 Luxury Publisher of the Year

Vogue Business is launching a China edition on WeChat. Image credit: Vogue Business

 

Media group Condé Nast is Luxury Daily’s 2019 Publisher of the Year for its innovative and forward-looking approach towards extending its pillar brands into new categories.

Combatting a challenging media environment, the publisher returned to B2B journalism this year through new titles and events, leveraging household names to build a community and following among professionals. This year, Condé Nast also experimented with new services and retail experiences designed to take its editors' curation off the page.

The Luxury Publisher of the Year award was decided based on luxury marketing, advertising, media and digital efforts with impeccable strategy, tactics, creative, executive and results. All candidates selected by the Luxury Daily editorial team had to have appeared in Luxury Daily coverage this year. Judging was based purely on merit.

Media moves

At the start of 2019, Condé Nast introduced a new paywall strategy for its digital content, banking on readers’ reliance on its titles to drive revenue.

After seeing success with metered paywalls for three of its titles, Condé Nast anticipates that readers will be willing to pay for the digital extensions of all of its brands, including Vogue and Architectural Digest. The media landscape has become more challenging in recent years due to the rise of digital consumption and subsequent drop in advertising revenue, making this move a potential solution and subscription driver for Condé Nast (see story).

This year has also seen Condé Nast make a push into business journalism. In January, the publisher debuted Vogue Business, a title that goes head-to-head with fashion publications including Business of Fashion and Women’s Wear Daily, the latter of which was previously owned by Conde Nast (see story).

Leveraging the Vogue name as well as its international editors, Vogue Business says it is on track to reach 100,000 subscribers by end of year. The title also just launched a China edition exclusively on WeChat (see story).

Condé Nast-owned shelter publication Architectural Digest also launched a new members-only B2B platform.

Geared towards design industry professionals, AD Pro launched in April and includes exclusive news, trade tools and services, as well as access to special events. Industry-oriented features include profiles, a job board and a calendar of trade events (see story).

 

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Men’s magazine British GQ also got into the B2B game with a luxury conference (see story).

Other extensions saw Condé Nast titles branch into entertainment. Vanity Fair has introduced Vanity Fair Hollywood, a new entertainment location on YouTube that will cover the art of entertainment and the power of personality through original cinematic storytelling.

The magazine, under editor Radhika Jones, has nearly doubled its YouTube subscriber base to 2 million, up 95 percent from a year ago. Now it wants to feed that audience even more original video content with insights into Hollywood celebrity moments and craft- and trade-focused interviews, almost adding a business-to-business element to its usual consumer focus (see story).

Media brands are now serving as purveyors of more than the printed or digital word. This year, Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit  launched what it calls a “virtual restaurant” as the media group continues to experiment with direct-to-consumer initiatives to boost revenues.

In a partnership with food delivery platform GrubHub, Bon Appétit is offering consumers the chance to order takeout dishes curated by the Bon Appétit test kitchen. Bon Appétit, Delivered is now available exclusively in Chicago for lunch and dinner orders (see story).

Bon Appetit Delivered

Bon Appétit, Delivered. Photo credit: Alex Lau, Bon Appétit

After merging its U.S. and international business, Condé Nast revamped its corporate leadership structure in 2019. As part of the reorganization, the company is establishing a consumer marketing organization that will focus on direct-to-consumer initiatives such as subscriptions and research (see story).

First runner’s-up: Hearst

This year, Hearst rolled out advertising innovations and leadership changes in service of the changing media marketing climate.

The media group is going in a new direction with targeted advertising by serving print campaigns based on what subscribers read online.

From investing in video content to strengthening paywalls, print publishers have been experimenting with new ways to generate revenues. Luxury marketers have also been allocating more of their spend towards online media, but Hearst’s move will help expand targeting beyond digital means.

Targeted print ads from Hearst Data Studio’s MagMatch service went live in Elle, reports Adweek. MagMatch uses online data to help guide which types of print advertisements subscribers should receive.

When print subscribers are logged into their online accounts, Hearst gathers first-party data, such as which buy links readers click to build consumer profiles. When subscribers are not logged in, the publisher uses third parties to anonymously match their online behavior (see story).

Elle targeted ad

Targeted ad from skincare brand StriVectin. Image credit: Elle

In another move in its investment in new advertising formats, Hearst named Nicolas Neubeck as the first the creative director of its HearstMade branded content studio earlier this year.

According to a report from Women’s Wear Daily, Mr. Neubeck is making the leap from editorial to advertising, coming to HearstMade after four years as the creative director of editorial content for Hearst’s digital media division. Increasingly, Hearst and its media competitors are putting an emphasis on branded content, as consumers pay less attention to traditional ads (see story).

Similarly to Condé Nast’s paywall move, Hearst is also making an investment in subscription-style online content.

As many media companies are closing the doors of established publications due to the shift in content consumption, Hearst is extending its Harper's Bazaar brand into the bridal segment with an innovative business model.

Bazaar Bride is a multi touch-point publication that goes beyond content production and product guides. The subscription-based hub delivers weekly mini-magazine editions on all things wedding related, but also provides interactive services such as masterclasses, deals on partner products, additional Web site content, a members-only video series and other unique resources (see story).

Second runner’s-up: Meredith

Media group Meredith stands out for its approach towards courting consumers with content creation on new media channels.

This year, the publisher has launched more video content, with 20 series of fully vertical, original content optimized for IGTV. The lineup includes Money’s “Mini Moguls” and a second season of “Badass Women” for InStyle.

Earlier this year, Meredith introduced “F&W Cooks,” a new multimedia franchise as part of the Food & Wine brand. It includes weekly recipe videos shared on IGTV (see story).

A number of Meredith’s key luxury titles also marked milestones or underwent makeovers in a modernization move.

Meredith’s Travel + Leisure is focusing on the human side of travel in a redesign that centers on making the magazine more luxurious and modern.

Travel + Leisure October 2019 cover

Travel + Leisure October 2019 cover

For editor in chief Jacqui Gifford’s first full issue, on newsstands March 29, the magazine revamped its layout in an effort to be more engaging and personal through first-person storytelling, hand-drawn details and photography. The affluent traveler has changed, as consumers desire trips that enable them to fully immerse themselves in a local culture, and Travel + Leisure is looking to bring that perspective to its pages (see story).

In September, Meredith’s travel title Departures marked its 30th anniversary with an issue focusing on 12 of today’s visionaries.

Advertising revenue for Departures has also risen 21 percent since the September 2018 edition. The travel and fashion verticals have seen the most advertising gains (see story).

As it continues to integrate the Time Inc. titles into its stable of brands, Meredith has made a number of investments towards making the luxury publications a high-end reading experience, from paper stock to staffing (see story).