Can Condé Nast Save Itself?

Add Condé Nast to the list of Big Names with Questionable Futures. In the face of huge losses, they’re reportedly selling multiple publications while the soul-of-the-company, Anna Wintour’s, future has been the subject of heavy conjecture.

As reported by Business of Fashion, “various nips and tucks haven’t solved fundamental problems like the decline in advertising revenue or a bifurcated management structure,” but “the latest wave of [rumors] speculating on Anna Wintour’s departure” served as a convenient “shiny object for… reporters to chase… while Condé Nast’s leadership navigates a long-awaited reckoning.”

That reckoning? Stanching 2017’s $120 million loss in revenue, which, presumably, is why the publisher is now auctioning off Brides, Golf Digest and W Magazine.

In order to “survive long-term,” BoF says that Condé Nast has to “further optimize the brand portfolio; integrate operations; think globally; nurture the next generation of editors; and invest more [in digital], but invest smarter.”

Some of those suggestions are easier said than done — telling someone to “invest smarter” is about as actionable as telling me to “write better” — but none of the factors justifying their inclusion require much rationalization.

For instance, the company had a “110 percent year-on-year increase in web revenue,” which is promising, but their print ad revenue is in shambles and they’re still recovering after being “slow to embrace the internet” early on. To combat that unfortunate situation, Condé Nast has been forging “new advertising partnerships that leverage reader data,” according to a memo obtained by BoF.

And while their globe-spanning regional portfolio has long been a calling card, the story suggests shifting the content into a more integrated — and cheaper to produce — global media model, “rather than continue to operate as a group of loosely connected local franchises.”

But the bottom line is things changed really fast, and some of the publishing world’s biggest players never saw the shift coming.

You can read more about it at Business of Fashion.

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