HACHETTE NAMES NEW DIGITAL OPERATIONS CHIEF

Creates New Post to Oversee Web and Electronic Ventures

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In another sign that 2006 will be a landmark year in the digitization of the publishing business, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. has created a new post atop its Web and electronic operations.
Marta Wohrle will oversee the development of 16 Web sites and digital editions of all Hachette titles.
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The publisher named Marta Wohrle as VP-director of digital media, responsible for the development of 16 Web sites, four mobile applications, digital editions for all Hachette titles, joint ventures in new media, video-on-demand and new media acquisitions.

In her previous capacity as a consultant, Ms. Wohrle recently completed a six-month review of Hachette’s digital strategy, said Philippe Guelton, exec VP-chief operating officer.

Double Web staffing
“Hachette intends to multiply by three to four times the investments in content and promotion online,” Mr. Guelton said. “We’re going to double our staffing on the Web, to about 60 from about 30. We will be starting to implement cross-platform strategies across all magazines.”

Hachette is not alone. With fears abating that online exuberance could again destroy careers, publishers are having trouble arguing against a substantial Web presence. Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore, for example, has emphasized that the large layoffs that capped the company’s year weren’t made for cutting’s sake but partly to free resources for “high growth” areas like the Web.

Hearst Magazines also plans to ramp up its digital presence in 2006, partly in pursuit of more subscriptions but also in a bid to extend the reach of its titles' content. Redbook, for example, has struck a content deal with MSN for 2006 that will make the magazine's "Real Life, Healthy Live" content available on the MSN Women channel. And Hearst sites for magazines like Good Housekeeping, CosmoGirl and Esquire will increasingly incorporate blogs and video components.

At a recent presentation at the Magazine Publishers of America “Breakfast with a Leader” series, Jack Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette and chairman of the MPA, identified digital platforms as one of the key drivers of future revenue.

Vigorous cross-promotion
“Migrating our assets to new digital platforms will require new strategies for creating content. As content is increasingly conceived for multiple platforms, we may, at times need to form new partnerships. We’ll need to develop the skills and systems that enable print- and screen-based resources to be shared and vigorous cross-promotion to be fostered,” he said.

Although magazine publishers were among the first to recognize the power -- and threat -- the Internet presented, Mr. Guelton said every magazine publisher now understands that the question is not whether to have a digital strategy, but how fast to execute it.

'Defined by content'
“The bigger difficulty for us is to truly understand and accept and implement the idea that we are not defined by paper or by a distribution form,” he said. “We are as magazines defined by content, editors and a relationship with marketers.”

Hachette, which said its digital operations are already profitable, is in the process of making all its titles available through the Zinio digital reader, which precisely replicates magazines on computer desktops. Sites for magazines like Woman's Day, Elle and Car and Driver already attract some 15 million page views a month, Mr. Guelton said.

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