'Esquire' Gets a Web Facelift

As Hearst Begins to Revamp Its Digital Strategy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Esquire today became the first of Hearst Magazines' big books to receive a much-needed web facelift, adding larger photos, easier navigation, an improved search engine and, of course, new online-only content.

New web exclusives on Esquire.com will reside in a piece of prime real estate called 'The Side,' where Chuck Klosterman has already weighed in on Britney Spears this week.
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Like many magazine publishers and traditional content players across the board, Hearst has ramped up its digital capabilities, particularly since the formation last March of a digital-media unit. This year it is adding mobile sites, starting last month with Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Cosmo Girl.

New Klosterman piece
For Esquire, the web exclusives will reside in a piece of prime real estate called "The Side," where Chuck Klosterman has already posted a timely piece on Britney Spears' antics this week called "Why Britney? Why?" The section will also include a new song to stream or download most days. It's not a blog, but a place for short items that track real-time events.

The site now makes better use of the unlimited news hole available online. Where the magazine could only print nine "novels" written on napkins as part of an Esquire editorial project, the site includes another 61.

"If you're bored at work you can just get lost," said Eric Gillin, Esquire's web editor since last fall, in a conversation at the Hearst Tower this morning.

Cover archive
"Search for your birthday," he suggested, before just as quickly retracting the idea. The site has "only" archived all Esquire content since 1999, as it turns out, so it would take an 8-year-old to find any content from the year of his birth. (The exception is the site's cover archive, which still goes back to 1933. So you could call up the cover that was on newsstands the month you were born.)

The new Esquire site does not yet include video or games, which Cosmo Girl and Seventeen are expected to include when they relaunch their sites next. And the new mobile Esquire won't make its debut until the last week in April. Mr. Gillin said his focus for now was to get the basics right.

In another strategic decision, the new site will eventually include all the content from each month's issue -- but will dole it out gradually while the current issue remains on stands. Until today, everything went live as soon as an issue went on sale.

But expect things to keep evolving. "There is no hard launch," said Chuck Cordray, VP-general manager, Hearst Magazines Digital Media.
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