Hearst Magazines today intensified its efforts to make more money from the editorial content it already produces, naming David Kang to the newly created post of creative director for content extensions.
Mr. Kang, who had been senior VP and general manager at Rodale.com since 2007 and was previously senior VP for entertainment at Major League Baseball, will try to find new opportunities for Hearst to package, sell or otherwise redeploy its editorial beyond its initial appearance in a single issue of Cosmopolitan or a post on Esquire.com.
Magazines have been trying to "live beyond the page" for years now, through books, licensed products and other brand extensions, but Hearst Magazines President David Carey wants these efforts to simultaneously become more entrepreneurial and more systematic. Just look at the movie business, he told Ad Age during a conversation with Mr. Carey and Mr. Kang.
Ad Age: What's the purpose of this department and position? What can it do that the individual brands can't or don't?
Mr. Carey: There are three areas where we want to focus. One, we sit on a treasure trove of great content and we add to it every day and every month. David and the group he's assembling will look for new ways to help the individual brands to build those businesses, identify the right partners, with business-model creation and enabling them to use many years of fantastic evergreen content in smart and profitable new ways. So the first is the vertical use of the content.
The second is we have a lot of content that lives side by side together, around health, relationships and beauty. We get a chance to bring it together around subject areas. That is a new opportunity.
There are a lot of similar areas we cover. We have deep, deep domain expertise in a number of different subjects.
And then lastly David will be working closely with editors when they create new content, let's say for special issues, and as we put additional thought into how to monetize that content.
A good analogy of an industry that does this very well is the film industry. How many windows are there for film content? You have 10 maybe, including theatrical, international, premium and airlines. Ultimately it runs on Turner at 3 o'clock in the morning. They all move in very predetermined paths through the windows. There's opportunity for the magazine industry to do similar things to think about content over time and in different ways.
Ad Age: David Kang, how has your experience prepared you for this, and what's the perspective you're bringing?
Mr. Kang: I was previously at Rodale for almost four years. One of the things I learned and practiced a lot there was the idea of thinking about 360 degrees in terms of content. Magazine content is great but it's really brands, and those brands can really have that content expressed in a number of ways, through print special issues, through book products and online as well.
It's that model of thinking about having a body of content and, especially with advances in digital, that there's a myriad of ways it can be packaged and enabled so that audiences can interact with it.
Ad Age: Are there recent examples at Hearst of the kind of work we're now going to see more of?
Mr. Carey: We've done a number of things that have taken the first step or two but I think we feel we have more potential. There's an opportunity to go forward.
Ad Age: How big will the department be? In addition to Mr. Kang, you've named Jacqueline Deval, VP and publisher of Hearst Books, to join the group.
Mr. Carey: We'll pair that with an additional business-development person as well. And then we'll let the success of the department pace its growth.
We sit on a distinctly large base of content that is often evergreen -- the issues around health and relationships and home -- that we have a chance to update and draw on.
Our fashion magazine content is harder because fashion changes over time, but a lot of the core subjects in the magazines are subjects you can go back to and update.
We have been investing in making that content more easily discoverable internally. And then we have to make it discoverable, of course, to consumers.
The issue is, "How do we operate more entrepreneurially?" This, I think, this is a great example of that.
Mr. Kang: One footnote to that is it's largely starting with the ideas that are, of course, driven by the editors. Our role is to help create products around the idea and then to create a business model, multiplatform business models, deepening our relationships with consumers and our audiences.