Before pursuing consumer revenue, Glamour seeks to build habit with site redesign

Condé Nast made waves last week when it declared that all of its titles would erect some kind of paywall by the end of 2019. But some of those titles still need to make their own websites into destinations first.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Glamour will unveil a new version of its website designed to encourage visitors to stay longer, watch more video and shop more with them. The redesign, six months in the making, is also meant to distinguish more clearly between quick-hit pieces and the in-depth reporting that the publisher’s new editor in chief, Samantha Barry, sees as most important to Glamour’s brand.

“That hierarchy’s important to me,” Barry said. “On the new site you’ll be able to tell what’s a quick take, and what we’ve taken months of reporting to produce.”

Glamour’s site attracts around 7 million people per month, according to Comscore data. With 85 percent of the audience visiting on mobile devices,  Glamour is looking beyond mobile display ads for opportunities to drive revenue. For example, the homepage will have more dedicated slots for branded content integrations; the site will be able to support up to four branded content integrations at once.

Increasing video views is a top priority, too. About 5 percent of Glamour’s total digital video views in 2018 — 45 million — came from the website, a spokesman said. To boost that number, Barry said, videos will be featured more prominently on the home page and infused into more of the site’s written content. (The site’s eschewing auto-play video.) While Glamour’s writers are not required to put video into every story, Barry said, they will be encouraged to think about how to integrate it more.

The redesign is also designed to increase commerce, which grew 158 percent year over year and which is already 67 percent ahead of projections in the first quarter, a spokesperson said. To that end, Glamour is deploying shoppable slideshow galleries of products, which helped increase commerce revenue over 230 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018. A spokesperson declined to share hard numbers.

How the redesign fits into its parent company’s paywall strategy is unclear. The hope, Barry said, is that separating long-and short-form content will help Glamour develop clearer signals about the kinds of content users want to spend more time with. With that data in hand, Barry said, Glamour can begin to think about what kinds of content it can start charging visitors to access.

Glamour’s moves come at a time of momentous change for its parent company, Condé Nast. It vowed that all of its titles would erect some kind of paywall by the end of 2019. Though some of its titles have already turned subscription revenue into a major source of revenue – The New Yorker generated $115 million in subscription revenue last year – some are just beginning; This week, Vogue launched a business-focused newsletter, Vogue Business, which it plans to charge money for eventually.

“I’m optimistic they’ll get this right given what they did for Wired, but having to address all the brands by the end of the year — I hope they don’t cut corners,” said Rob Ristagno, the CEO of Sterling Woods Group. “I hope they don’t assume a meter is the best mechanism for all sites — sometimes a free trial or differentiated tiers based on content topic or type makes more sense.”

“It’s worth investing two to three months on analysis and research to make sure we’re clear on who we are targeting, what’s important to them, and how our content and products help,” Ristagno added.

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