Time Inc. Unveils Digital Platforms for Print Brands

John Squires: 'Long Tail Content Our Trojan Horse'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Continuing its heavy emphasis on emerging media, Time Inc. put on the first of what it hopes will become a series of "Digital Showcase" presentations today, giving reporters invited to the Time & Life Building in New York a virtual tour of its growing interactive platforms.
A new Life online picture portal will feature never before seen photos, like this one of Sophia Loren, photographed in 1961 for Life.
A new Life online picture portal will feature never before seen photos, like this one of Sophia Loren, photographed in 1961 for Life. Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt

The timing was particularly appropriate, in a way, because it followed by hours the announcement that Time Inc. is giving up on the latest print incarnation of Life magazine.

'Convenient'
John Squires, senior exec VP, Time Inc., acknowledged the news at the top of his opening remarks. "Obviously it was a very difficulty decision to make, the decision to close Life magazine, the print magazine," Mr. Squires said. And though he acknowledged how "convenient" it is for publishers to say they have a digital plan for whatever print brand they've just shut down, he said the company will continue building an online portal for Life's 10 million images.

The company has come to view the archives of Life, Time, People and Sports Illustrated, in fact, as assets that none of its vigorous competitors can match. All will be totally digitized and available online by the end of the year, Mr. Squires said, showing a slide that said, "Long Tail content is our Trojan horse."
Jerry Lewis on the set of 'The Stooge' in 1951
Jerry Lewis on the set of 'The Stooge' in 1951 Credit: Allan Grant

Despite higher cost-per-thousand prices for the printed page than for websites, the digital revenue at certain Time Inc. titles has become noteworthy, Mr. Squires said. This year Sports Illustrated is expected to derive about 18% of its revenue from digital, while digital dollars at the business and finance group may hit 17%.

Sports Illustrated and the business and finance group also gave brief presentations, arguing their huge print audiences need to be converted to the digital space -- which will in turn be good for both the magazines and their sites.

More risk
And Paul Speaker, president of the newly formed Time Inc. Studios, said his division will play a key role in helping the company succeed in the future. "Having something like this in-house saves money," he said. "It allows us to take more risk, because the cost of risk is down."

Time Inc. is planning further digital showcases every two or three months; the next one is likely to feature People and Time magazines, two titles whose digital success will be crucial going forward.
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