John Loughlin, Executive VP and GM of Hearst Magazines, which publishes Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and other popular titles, provided an inside look into Hearst’s content strategy for the digital age here at ad:tech NY.
With 14 magazines and 23 sites, the company has 40 apps to accompany them. “Our digital library is a huge asset,” he said, later adding “It’s not just the assets. It’s what you do with them.”
Hearst goes well beyond simply re-creating its print experiences for digital platforms whether they be the publications’ websites or mobile apps. For its sites it creates unique content. For its apps it not only creates unique content, but unique app experiences altogether. Many of Heart’s brand apps offer different services or entertaining experiences that aren’t just reading. And this goes beyond even video, audio, and animation. It’s about creating a interesting experience.
None of these apps are free. Loughlin says that while much of the Blogosphere says this stuff should be free, he disagrees, noting that these bloggers should see the bills that come along with developing this stuff.
“It’s not just about brand exposure,” said Loughlin. “It’s about creating a sufficiently strong impression.”
“When people ask me, ‘Is print dead?’ I say hell no” he added.
Hearst’s paid print subscriptions sold via the web have gone up significantly in the last four years.
While I’ve long been skeptical of the notion that a substantial amount of people will pay for digital content when there is so much other content available for free,
Hearst has the right idea when it comes to making this work, I think, if it’s really going to. It’s all about keeping it unique and creating interesting experiences beyond just readable (or even watchable or listenable) content.