How 'digital barbarians' have changed Conde Nast

The president of Conde Nast’s digital division CondeNet Stefano Maruzzi said his company is in the middle of a massive cultural and organisational period of change that has seen far more technologically savvy staff joining in the last 18 months.

Likening the new staff to digital “barbarians” among editorial “purists” in a traditional-media focused company, Maruzzi told today’s AOP conference that the shift in strategy had allowed the company’s brands to grow both on and offline.

He said: “We are in the middle a huge, huge technological and organisational migration, we are changing a lot of staff… We used to think that we had a magazine – and then we had the website. I don’t think this is right, it’s not what the customer wants

“Inside the company all the digital content was driven by editors. Nothing against editors, I am a journalist myself, but I thought we needed specialists. So we mixed the purists with the barbarians – I asked a lot of people to join the company to mix with the traditional Conde Nast culture.”

One of the main things Maruzzi said he had achieved was to create one online division, CondeNet International, headquartered in London, which Conde Nast’s titles in nine countries report to.

“The idea was to standardize as much as possible,” he said. “Everything was driven by a pure editorial approach. I hired a lot of people…we changed so much of the culture within the organization that some people decided to leave, which was good because we could inject new blood into the organizatiorn.”

CondeNet is currently investing in a company-wide advertising server to increase efficiency and uniformity on the commercial side and to improve relationships with advertisers.

Maruzzi also spoke of the problem of translating Conde Nast’s popular print brands to online. While for some it made sense to invest in a companion site, for others it was not the best option.

He said: “We think our brands should be exposed in an intelligent way. Tatler in the UK is pretty popular because it comes out with a range of supplements. Does it make sense for us to build a Tatler website? In a sense yes, but in another sense no.

“It’s going to be pretty tough to get users to go to the Tatler website. It’s better to create an online experience where Tatler is really strong – where it is packaged and appears with other brands on the web. It is then more scaleable.”

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