Is Conde Nast ready to overhaul its famously complicated Internet strategy? No. But it is about to give its magazine a bit of what they’re clamoring for — a chance to run their own Web sites.
Conde Nast’s Web structure is byzantine at best. Some of the publisher’s magazines, like Bon Appetit and Vogue, don’t really have Web sites at all, but simply point to sites run by CondeNet, which manages Web-only brands like Epicurious, Concierge.com and Style.com. But CondeNet does manage other magazine titles, like Wired.com. Still other Conde Web titles, like Vanity Fair, work within a different Conde group. And Portfolio.com, launched last year, runs on its own.
Confused? So are Conde’s editors and publishers: Once dismissive of the Web, they’re now intently interested, and think they can do better left to their own devices. The new ammunition for their argument is Portfolio, which after a slow start seems to have the makings of a successful Web site, an accomplishment it pulled off by itself.
In part to diffuse the rancor, Conde Nast says it will let each magazine handle its own Web site — eventually. W got its own site last year; Gourmet.com went up in January; Bon Appettit will get one in April. Even the venerable Vogue is getting its own site, but it will have to wait until 2009.
“Over the years there have been very passionate feelings about this,” acknowledges CondeNet boss Sarah Chubb. The newish plan, she says, is to have CondeNet run the non-magazine Web sites but sell ads for all of the Conde properties. The one exception: She’s going to hang on to a piece of Wired.com, which has also taken off recently.
The decision to keep Wired.com within CondeNet was made by Steve Newhouse, heir apparent the Advance Publications empire. It’s now being run as a hybrid between Chubb and Group Publisher David Carey, who also runs Portfolio, as well as Portfolio’s Web site.
As we said, Conde’s Web strategy is… complicated. And that’s not going to change anytime soon.
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