NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- For much of the magazine industry, a digital strategy has amounted to throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks -- then praying really hard that consumers will follow. But New York has distinguished itself as one of the most innovative media brands when it comes to developing non-print businesses that actually deliver.
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"A lot of magazines have a web presence but not a web business," said Publisher Larry Burstein.
Editor Adam Moss is even more blunt: Even in this day and age, most publishers, he said, "look at the web in general with dread."
Much of New York's digital fortunes are due to a stable of blogs tailored around topics with universal appeal, such as food, fashion, sports and entertainment -- topics that transcend the five boroughs and, thus, have built a truly national following. Launched in 2006, food blog Grub Street was New York's very first blog; following the company's acquisition last July of the food site MenuPages, it expanded this summer to markets including Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, and just last week set up shop in London and Paris, New York's first dip in international waters. (Grub Street, winner of the James Beard Award, averaged 1.6 million page views in the first five months of this year, double those of 2008.)
Last month, NYmag.com drew its biggest ever Fashion Week following, with more than 28 million page views and 300,000 uniques, up 18% vs. '08 -- the second-most-trafficked week ever for the site. Many of those Fashion Week eyeballs came by way of blog The Cut, whose page views soared 179% vs. '08. Last month brought the launch of still more: The Sports Section (with HBO as launch sponsor) and TV blog Surf (sponsored by Capital One), joining New York's popular news blog Daily Intel and culture and entertainment blog Vulture.
Consumers keep coming back to the site because New York gives them reason to: Content is updated every six minutes, while only 10% of what's found on the site is repurposed from the print edition, Mr. Moss said.
While boasting record traffic, September also marked the strongest ad-revenue month in NYmag.com's 11-year history, up 18% year-over-year (the greatest growth came from the retail, beauty, auto and entertainment categories; new online clients include Infiniti, Absolut and Maybelline). While the large majority of digital revenue comes from display (north of 90%, says online manager Michael Silverman), NYmag.com and MenuPages.com also get a cut from tie-ins with restaurant sites Seamless Web and Open Table, while additional sources of cash flow include other e-commerce relationships as well as licensing deals. In the meantime, look for even more digital extensions from New York, including a MenuPages iPhone app set to launch around Thanksgiving.