Industry veteran David Carey of Hearst is feeling the heat as media continues morphing at a wild rate. And he’s thriving in the chaos.
Women’s Wear Daily asked Carey how the media landscape is changing, and his answers are insightful and encouraging.
“It feels like every media category is being disrupted right now,” says Carey. “It’s actually very exciting, whether it’s television, digital, print…everything is going through an accelerating rate of change. And that is driven both by consumer adoption of technology — most people expect for our free Web products that 80 percent of the traffic will be mobile — and then also that it will be driven by entrepreneurial companies that want to put pressure every day on the big, shiny skyscraper companies.
“We like that kind of tumult. I think it plays to our strengths here at Hearst,” Carey continues.
Tumultuous indeed, and that atmosphere helps create better products.
“I think that what is happening with digital… is that [our readers] are putting good pressure on us in how to rethink how we are running our print products,” Carey notes. “I really like that piece of it. A key part of my job is to run very hard against the outdated orthodoxies that stand in the way of growing our business.”
Part of that new growth includes taking the offensive on digital, by creating a common global platform for digital publishing for all the Hearst titles. As he explains, “It’s hard to make money in digital and so the people who win will have common global platforms…For our monthly magazines, all of our brands on the digital side need to be news vehicles at the same time,” Carey notes.
“We’ve done this successfully with Cosmo and Elle and Esquire and others. We need to publish 50 to 100 pieces of content a day to be relevant to what people are thinking about and talking about today.”
It’s just this kind of relevance that Carey expects to lead to a much greater level of profitability from digital revenue for the Hearst brand. And while he notes that digital has some good growth potential, “You have to be very efficient in how you run your digital businesses to make a full profit.”
As to how the advertisers are reacting to digital, Carey confirms that print is still where they tell the best stories.
“For the fashion and beauty magazines here and around the world, the advertisers understand and strongly support the storytelling they do through their creative in print. The nature of what they do to romance accessories, dresses, shoes and watches works great for print,” he notes.
And while they are getting better at telling those digital stories, Carey is quick to say that this digital gain is not coming at the expense of print in the fashion world.