"Wired is pulling back," said Howard Mittman, VP and publisher
at the magazine. "Our intention is to adapt our model to allow
Flipboard users to know what content at Wired is out there. It will
have a headline and a sentence leading to a URL. If digital
consumers want to interact with Wired, they can do so at Wired.com
and not through an intermediary."
"We're doing the same thing," said Lisa Hughes, VP-publisher at
The New Yorker, which like Wired is part of Conde Nast.
Flipboard, the tablet and smartphone app that weaves media and
social feeds into a magazine layout, can display websites such as
Wired.com and NewYorker.com, so users will still be able to read
complete Wired and New Yorker articles without leaving the app. But
they won't be able to flip through lush, magazine-like layouts --
one of the app's main attractions -- as they do it.
"We'll still be there and you'll still be able to read some
content," Ms. Hughes said. "You'll just click through if you want
to read the full length."
The magazine industry has been hoping that Flipboard, which
Apple called the
best iPad app of 2010, will connect them with new audiences and
advertisers on mobile devices. And readers certainly seem to have
gravitated there. Flipboard said in February that users were
averaging 1.6 billion "flips" per month. But nearly a year after
Conde Nast began offering ads on the platform,
sales have been uneven.
Some magazines have begun to wonder whether it's a good idea to
encourage consumers to read their content elsewhere -- without
having to buy a magazine, download its tablet edition or visit its
website. "The growth is incredible, but to what end?" asked an
executive at another magazine company on Flipboard.
"Nobody will deny that Flipboard is a beautiful product, but the
question is , is it too beautiful?" the executive said. "What
people want out of a magazine is exactly what they're delivering.
So if people feel like they're getting that already, even if it's
not the same depth of content that would be in a print or monthly
publication, then are they less likely to want to find it in the
The New York Times is dealing with that challenge this Thursday,
when it plans to begin posting its full content on Flipboard -- but
only for users who also prove they are paid Times
subscribers. Magazines could consider adopting a similar model,
but for now they are looking to ad revenue to make the content
giveaway worth it.
Marketers are running a total of four to eight campaigns each
month across the 15 publishers authorized to sell ads there, a
Flipboard spokeswoman said late last week, citing a Macy's ad in
the Oprah feed, the Tourism Australia ad in Lonely Planet's feed
and an ad for Universal Pictures' "Savages" in the Vanity Fair feed
as current examples.
Conde Nast titles such as Vanity Fair, Bon Appetit, Glamour and
Details are continuing where Wired and The New Yorker are pulling
back. "All the others that went to that more robust experience are
staying on it," said Josh Stinchcomb, VP for digital sales at the
Conde Nast Media Group. "Some are having great success with the
advertising piece. It's becoming clear that it's not one size fits
Wired, for its part, hasn't found enough advertiser demand, Mr.
Mittman said. "I'm interested in ways to bring advertisers in front
of our community," he said. "When Flipboard becomes that , I would
love to reengage and reinvigorate our product. Until then, we have
to wait and see and not allow intermediaries to build their own
platforms without direct monetizable benefit back to us."
The New Yorker just doesn't have enough time to sell Flipboard
ads after it pitches advertisers and agencies on the traditional
magazine, its iPad edition and the website. "We have to focus on
our business, and that 's a lot of stuff to get through on a sales
call, a lot of opportunities," said Ms. Hughes, the New Yorker
publisher. "People are really excited about what's happening on the
web for us and on the tablet. It's just one more thing we can't get
to on the sales call."
"It's just off-strategy for us," she added.
The New Yorker could reverse course again down the road, Mr.
Hughes emphasized. "We'll see how our business evolves and how
their business evolves," she said. "There might be a point in the
future where we change our minds."
The Flipboard spokeswoman said she hoped that will happen. "We
really and truly in our hearts believe that there's an opportunity
for them to make a lot of money," she said. "Can we prove that in
six months? No. It's going to take some time."