Vanity Fair Launches $20 Per Year Paywall
Digiday: "Vanity Fair is joining the parade of publications at parent Condé Nast and elsewhere that are putting their digital content behind paywalls as ad revenue becomes harder to come by, although at a low price point. Starting April 24, after people read their fourth article in a month, they’ll be required to subscribe for $19.99 a year for either digital-only or print plus digital. (Video and slideshows will be exempt from the paywall.) To sweeten the offer, Vanity Fair also is rolling out a searchable archive of its articles, a subscriber-only newsletter and even considering giving subscribers access to its writers and editors. 'At a moment when quality journalism is not a luxury, but a necessity, it will enable us to invest in our reporting, writing, photography and video, expanding into new areas and onto new platforms, with you, our core readers and viewers, clearly in focus,' wrote Radhika Jones, VF's new editor-in-chief, in a note to readers. Mike Hogan, digital director of Vanity Fair, said the paywall conversation started a few years ago when it became clear that chasing advertising through flyby traffic was a bad long-term business model and not very Vanity Fair-ish, anyway. The magazine laid the groundwork for the paywall, improving the user experience on the site, hiring big-name reporters and emphasizing analysis and original reporting of the sort that people are willing to pay for. In the past year, the site’s traffic has grown 22% to 21M total monthly unique visitors in March, according to comScore. 'We have a loyal audience--premium content, must-read content,' Hogan said. 'I still want a big audience, but my hope is we can add a new revenue stream that will let us produce more content and get paid double for it.' VF had a couple of big boosts in print subscription sales in the past couple years, when it put Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and when it published a damning review of the restaurant at Trump Tower. The print subs boosts 'encouraged us that we should push forth and make it happen,' Hogan said of the paywall. It’ll be hard for VF to live up to sibling The New Yorker, whose digital paywall has been considered a big success but is an outlier, at an annual price of $120 for a print-digital bundle. (The net annual sub price for VF averaged $16.56 last year, according to AAM.) Like The New Yorker, VF still has a sizable print circulation--1.1M million, per the AAM--and there’s a print-digital bundle option because a lot of people still like reading it in print. The company has said it would roll out more paywalls, and Vogue and GQ seem like the most likely next candidates, but execs wouldn’t give specifics. 'People will pay for incredible content that’s exclusive and unique that we can’t get elsewhere, and we have a lot of that at the company,' said Monica Ray, EVP of consumer marketing at Condé Nast. Vanity Fair’s model has more in common with sibling Wired, which put up a paywall in February and also charges $20 a year after four free clicks a month, with three months free. (Vanity Fair will, however, borrow one successful trick from The New Yorker playbook: a free tote bag for subscribers.) Ray said the Wired paywall has 'gone extremely well,' helping increase print and digital subscriptions over 200 percent over a year ago. She wouldn’t say what her target is for the Vanity Fair paywall, though... A 2017 Reuters Institute survey found 16 percent in the U.S. paid for online news in 2017, but 79% still said it was “somewhat or very unlikely” that they’d pay for online news in the future, and those who will pay are most likely to pay for news reporting and less so lifestyle and entertainment news. VF is aware that many people will never read enough to hit the paywall, but would argue that its coverage is superior to most and spans a big range of subjects, having expanded its business, politics and tech coverage with its Hive vertical. Hogan also points out that people who would be targeted by the paywall--those who read five or more articles a month--is up 54% YoY. (Vanity Fair wouldn’t say how much of its audience falls into that category, though.)"
Glamour's New Editor Unveils Major Redesign
BoF: "Glamour’s new editor-in-chief Samantha Barry says she isn’t afraid of change. She had better not be; in her first foray into magazines, the CNN and BBC veteran is embarking on a comprehensive redesign of the 79-year-old title, which has struggled to gain traction in an increasingly digital media world.Barry joined the challenged Condé Nast title just three months ago, succeeding Cindi Leive. The former editor led the publication for 16 years, turning it into what was at one point Condé Nast’s most lucrative title. The magazine still has the largest circulation at the publisher — an average of 2.3 million in the second half of 2017, according to AAM. Barry was a surprising choice, coming to the magazine with no significant prior print experience after working as the executive producer for social and emerging media at CNN.Barry’s experience attracting online audiences is key to her main goal: making Glamour relevant again. Glamour rarely generates buzz online, and risks losing both print and online readers to fast-growing upstarts like Refinery29 and Bustle. Other Condé Nast publications are grappling with the same problem. At Teen Vogue and Self, that meant shuttering print editions to focus on digital readers. A company spokesperson has denied rumours of more cutbacks in frequency coming to other titles, as well as any plans to change Glamour’s print frequency. Since the 2016 election, fashion and beauty publications have embraced feminist positions and politics to vie for audiences online. Hearst’s Cosmopolitan has the biggest audience, New York Magazine’s The Cut is distinguished by its slate of writers. Indie title Gentlewoman is hosting intimate events. Barry wants Glamour to “own” the conversations impacting women today, including #MeToo and the pay gap, with stronger points of view and more original reporting and exclusive angles. She said Glamour has a history of strong journalism, but “I just don’t know if they have shouted about [it] as much as they could have.”Barry’s first print issue, on newsstands May 1, is a clear indication of her vision--not a publication for “good girls,” she said, remembering the way it was described to her recently, but for “smart girls.”“We changed everything,” Barry told BoF on the thirtieth floor of One World Trade Center, looking at an early copy of the issue. Her office was flanked on one wall by a television screen tuned to CNN and on another by a giant map of the world, a reminder of her global outlook. A native of Ireland, Barry reported from dozens of countries including Brazil and Australia before joining the BBC in London. She moved to New York with CNN four years ago. The May issue’s radically different look was overseen by creative director Nathalie Kirsheh, who has spearhead redesigns at W and the now defunct Details. Glamour’s website was also tweaked, ahead of a full redesign slated for September. With 6.9 million unique US visitors in March 2018, Glamour is larger online than Teen Vogue, which has 3.9M unique visitors, and smaller than Cosmopolitan.com, which has 19 million, according to ComScore.The print cover will undoubtedly surprise some longtime readers. A thick white border frames a stark close-up image of actress Melissa McCarthy, topped off by a new logo in an architectural and modernist typeface designed to also pop online. It looks less like a mainstream fashion glossy and more like a pop culture weekly. The theme is money — how women spend and save and struggle for financial freedom.The traditional front-of-book and well structure is gone, leaving just four sections of content: #Look, #Feel, #Live and #Think. That last section will be home to the types of pieces Barry is most excited about. 'I have lofty ambitions for the journalism that will be in Glamour,' says Barry. 'Hopefully we will be winning a Pulitzer next year, not just GQ'... Every day at a 9am staff meeting, Barry evaluates traffic and engagement. Her most important metric is habit, or returning visitors. She wants to jazz up the newsletters. 'Glamour needs to feel in both print and digital that you are part of a tribe, it’s not behind a [VIP] room,' she says. At the same time, Barry is out spreading the word with brands...which she wants to expand beyond fashion and beauty to more financial institutions, pharmaceutical and automotive companies'"...
AMI Merges Muscle & Fitness, Flex; Ups Frequency
MediaPost: American Media Inc. has merged Flex Magazine into its Muscle & Fitness brand. Beginning with its May issue--currently on newsstands--Muscle & Fitness now incorporates Flex’s bodybuilding coverage and training programs in a new, 50-page dedicated section to Flex editorial content. 'Increasing the page count allows us to cover the entire fitness spectrum and explore new ways to present the information to our readers,' stated executive editor Zack Zeigler. 'It's our goal both in print and online to make M&F the destination for every CrossFitter, strongman, powerlifter, obstacle-course racer, bodybuilder, and fitness enthusiast, as well as for guys who simply want to look better, move better and feel better.' Flex’s website will also merge with Muscle & Fitness’, adding 5.5M monthly unique visitors to the Muscle & Fitness site. 'Advertisers will benefit from the new combined print and digital platforms, which will deliver a larger audience under one brand,' stated EVP, group publisher Chris Scardino. Muscle & Fitness will also increase its frequency from 11 issues a year to 12. Flex magazine has been around for 35 years. A letter was sent to Flex subscribers in March to inform them the magazine was ending its publication this month"...
Playboy Unveils New Website, Membership Program
MediaPost: "Today, Playboy unveiled a new website that taps into the exclusive reputation of its Playboy Club, creating an online iteration of its real life counterpart. As part of the new website rollout, all site visitors are required to register. They can become a Playboy Club member for access to exclusive content and events. New premium content available only to members includes a new collection of video series including: The New Creatives, which offers a look into the lives of disruptors and visionaries; A Moment With featuring a Playboy ambassador letting members gain a closer look at her life; Playboy’s Speed, a car-focused series featuring automobiles with the brands official stamp of approval; 20Q adapted from the print edition featuring chats with celebrities; and Topless Chef, a new spin on the traditional cooking show. Membership includes access to events like the Midsummer Night’s Dream party and premium access to the 40th annual Playboy Jazz Festival hosted at the Hollywood Bowl. Members also have access to pre-sales of Playboy products, such as one-off collectibles and “marquee collaborations.' Cooper Hefner, chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., stated: 'For months, we have been creating a new, unique digital and mobile experience for Playboy fans, one that successfully communicates the entire story of our brand.' The website has already been tested in beta"
Meredith Said Exploring Sale of MySpace Parent VIant
WSJ: "Meredith Corp. is exploring the possible sale of Viant Technology, the parent of MySpace, according to people familiar with the situation. Meredith, through its acquisition earlier this year of Time Inc., owns 60% of the advertising technology company. In a regulatory filing in 2016, the former Time Inc. said that ?it paid about $87 million, net of cash acquired, for its stake in the business. A spokesman for Meredith declined comment"...
Axel Springer Reducing Dependence on Google Ad Tech
Digiday: "Axel Springer is on a mission to cut down on its dependence on Google ad tech--and it’s making progress.In January, the German digital media giant, owner of Business Insider, Bild and other titles, completed the shift from its former waterfall-based ad tech stack used with Google in favor of using AppNexus as its ad server, into which it can plug in a variety of demand partners (including Google). It’s a strategy it began last spring. The result: Programmatic revenues rose 10% vs. same period last year, while eCPMs jumped 28%. The publisher won’t disclose what percentage of its digital ad revenue comes from programmatically bought ads.Axel Springer is pleased by the revenue jump, but it’s also looking at the overall benefit of being less beholden to Google’s ad technology developments and agendas--and to gain more transparency over the programmatic bidding process. With its new setup, it can still benefit from Google demand, but is more in control of any changes it wants to make to its programmatic strategy. Axel Springer now wants to encourage other publishers that are concerned they’re also overreliant on Google technologies to follow suit. Two weeks ago, Axel Springer published a white paper showing the nuts and bolts of what changes it made and why, with an eye toward encouraging other European publishers to take similar steps"...
Staff of Former Time Inc. Titles Up for Sale Hoping for New 'Savior'
Daily Intelligencer: With Meredith in the process of selling Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money, their staffs "are living in a kind of suspended animation--focusing on keeping up with the daily deluge of news in the Trump era, while hoping that an appropriate suitor comes along to snatch them up. According to sources in the various newsrooms and at the company, nothing so far has much changed, save for a series of cost-saving layoffs on the business side. According to a company spokesperson, Meredith wants keep their media properties at full strength in order to better entice a deep-pocketed buyer, and doesn’t see much benefit in getting involved in the daily running of magazines they are soon going to unload anyway.... Meredith has already been receiving offers, and a company spokesperson said that they hope to wrap up a sale in the next two to four months. But if turning Time into an upmarket National Enquirer is off the table, there is a lot of room between David Pecker and say, Jeff Bezos or Mike Bloomberg or Bill Gates — i.e. the kind of person who appreciates the wall between the news and business sides of publishing and understands the financial investment necessary to produce good journalism... It is possible that a new buyer could continue to use part of the existing Meredith infrastructure — for a fee, of course — but anybody who wants to build out Time to anything like its glory days of yore would be looking at somewhere between $5 to 10 million extra per year in expenses. Some industry insiders predicted that a likely scenario is not the white knight that many newsroom staffers hope for — a Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos or Laurene Powell Jobs — but someone who ends up turning the magazine more into something like The Week, with more aggregation and less original reporting"...
More on Conde Subleases Some HQ Space
Bisnow: "Condé Nast has listed 350,000 square feet for sublease in the U.S.'s tallest building [1 World Trade Center] as part of its plan to reduce its 1M SF lease in the building, Bisnow has learned. The sublease listing comes as downtown landlords continue to battle for tenants in the supply-heavy market across the city. Following last year’s run of blockbuster leases--including Spotify’s deal for 463K SF at 4 World Trade Center — the Downtown office market has slowed down to start 2018"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Walmart Teams with DoorDash for Delivery
SN: "Walmart is expanding its Online Grocery Delivery program via a partnership with DoorDash, a San Francisco-based on-demand delivery service. DoorDash-powered online grocery delivery will initially launch in the Atlanta metro area and roll out to more markets in the coming months. Walmart’s team of more than 18,000 personal shoppers and DoorDash “Dashers” will enable thousands of Atlanta-area shoppers to order fresh produce, meat, seafood and bakery items, pantry staples, consumables and seasonal general merchandise online and have the products delivered as soon as the same day.Customers in Atlanta place their orders online at Walmart.com/grocery or through the Walmart Grocery App, switch to the “Delivery” tab and select a delivery window at checkout. Once Walmart personal shoppers have collected the groceries ordered, a DoorDash Dasher picks up the order from a Walmart store and delivers it to the customer during the designated time frame. Walmart’s Online Grocery Delivery costs $9.95 for a $30 minimum order. The retailer is offering customers free delivery for their first order via promo code FRESHCAR with a $50 minimum order. DoorDash marks the latest online delivery partner for Walmart as it battles Amazon in the retail grocery arena. Two weeks ago, Walmart unveiled a partnership with the Postmates network, launching online grocery delivery in Charlotte, N.C., with plans to broaden the service to additional areas. And in late February, Walmart’s Sam’s Club warehouse club chain began same-day grocery delivery through Instacart in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Louis. That service also is slated for expansion to more markets in the coming months. The retail giant also works with Uber and Deliv for grocery delivery"...
Tops Seeks OK to Close Stores, But No Word on Closures Yet
PG: "Tops Markets LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, has sought permission to close underperforming stores, according to a published report citing documents filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.The Rochester, N.Y., Democrat & Chronicle reported that grocer requested in a document 'to close any stores that they determine, in their business judgment, should be closed in order to preserve liquidity and maximize the value of their respective estates.' Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops additionally petitioned the court to be able to sell, transfer or abandon inventory and other assets. If the company receives approval, stores that would shut down would hold closing sales for the locations’ products. The number of stores closing, however, would necessitate the use of a liquidation firm.The motion is slated to go before the court on May 10 in White Plains, located in New York state’s Westchester County.Despite the filing, the company, which currently operates 169 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, hasn’t yet revealed what, if any, locations it may jettison. 'No decisions have been made about potential store closings,' Tops spokeswoman Kathleen Romanowski told local newspapers."
Amazon Rolls Prime Delivery Service Out to Cars
MNB: "In case having Amazon products delivered to your home, workplace or a nearby Amazon Locker just isn’r convenient enough, Amazon announced this morning that Prime members in the US now will have the option of having products delivered to their cars--building on a program that had been tested in Europe and on a limited basis in the U.S. 'With Amazon Key In-Car,' the announcement says, 'Prime members with compatible vehicles now have the convenience of having packages delivered inside their cars when parked in a publicly accessible area, typically at their home or workplace.' Compatible vehicles include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac models from 2015 or later with active OnStar accounts, and Volvos from 2015 or later with active Volvo On Call accounts. Amazon said the goal is to add other makes and models in the future. The service is available at no extra cost for Prime members--for same day, two-day and standard shipping in 37 markets across the U.S. Here’s how it works: 'Customers download the Amazon Key App and then link their Amazon account with their connected car service account. Once setup is complete and the delivery location has been registered, customers can shop on Amazon.com and select the ‘In-Car’ delivery option at checkout. On delivery day, the Amazon Key App lets customers check if they’ve parked within range of the delivery location, and provides notifications with the expected 4-hour delivery time window. The App also notifies customers when the delivery is on its way, and the package has been delivered. Customers can track when their car was unlocked and relocked in the App’s activity feed, and rate their in-car delivery.' In other Amazon-related delivery news…Amazon announced this morning that it is now offering 'free two-hour delivery of natural and organic products from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now in Denver, Sacramento and San Diego… Prime members receive two-hour delivery for free and ultra-fast delivery within one hour for $7.99 on orders of $35 or more.' Amazon has said that it plans to roll the service out in various US markets this year; the addition of Denver, Sacramento and San Diego brings the total where it is now available to 10."
Walmart Wants Suppliers on Blockchain
Bloomberg: "Walmart Inc. is getting suppliers to put food on the blockchain to help reduce waste, better manage contamination cases and improve transparency. The retailer, which started running tests with International Business Machines Corp.’s blockchain platform in 2016, is ready to use the technology on its live food business, according to Frank Yiannas, VP of food safety and health. Yiannas spoke Monday at the MIT Technology Review’s Business of Blockchain conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yiannas said blockchain was able to cut the time it took to track produce to two seconds from six days."
Gary Redner Named COO of Redner's Markets
SN: Reading, Penn.-based Redner’s Markets has promoted EVP Gary M. Redner to chief operating officer, effective immediately. In the role, he will oversee the daily operations of the Redner’s Warehouse Markets and Quick Shoppe divisions, as well as all warehousing and transportation. He reports to Redner’s president and CEO, Ryan Redner.
Health Screening: Wegmans Integrates Data Sharing; Schnucks Launches Kiosks
SN: "Pharmacists at Wegmans Food Markets will be able to get better insight into customers’ health through an initiative with higi, a maker of health screening stations.Wegmans rolled out higi health kiosks last year to its approximately 95 stores and corporate sites in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The stations allow customers and employees to measure their weight, body mass index (BMI), pulse and blood pressure. Users also can securely store their data in a private, online higi account for reference and progress comparison. They can access the information via the higi mobile application and website, which provide wellness-related content and activity tracking tools. Now, through higi’s integration with the McKesson Clinical Programs Solution (CPS), Wegmans customers can share higi-collected data--including blood pressure, pulse, weight and BMI--with the Wegmans pharmacy team"... PG: "Midwestern grocery chain Schnuck Markets Inc. is partnering with PharmaSmart International Inc. to deploy health-screening kiosks with an interoperable digital health platform at each of the retailer’s in-store pharmacies"...
Shopping Trends, and Mobile, Bode Well for C Stores
MediaPost: "The annual State of the Industry, by Koupon Media, focuses on mobile offers and the rise of the convenience industry... Some of the findings: As e-commerce gains traction, shoppers are making more immediate needs trips to convenience stores; an increase in C-store locations and positive trends in share of wallet show that C stores have a bright future in retail; mobile offers produce highly effective results in C stores, presenting an opportunity for marketers; and CPG brands are looking for new areas of growth and they are beginning to focus more on C stores... Online shopping and changing consumer preferences have led C stores to be the only brick and mortar vertical expected to grow share of wallet through 2021. Koupon’s platform and redemption network have witnessed these trends in its own metrics. With 3B offers delivered and 50% annual campaign growth, says the report, it’s clear that mobile offers in convenience stores have a bright future." Article goes into specifics, trends stats.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: