A Venerated Brand in the Age of Fast Media



That’s the assertion of the relatively new UK managing director of Conde Nast, who says their print titles are holding their ground.

“There are forces around us that have impacted us,” Albert Read,  a 17-year company employee appointed to his current role in 2017, told The Telegraph’s Christopher Williams. “I would never say we’re immune to them. I think one has always got to fight very hard and run very fast, so that what we do is at the top of our game. I don’t think magazines are intrinsically doomed and I don’t see my role as managing decline,” he says. “On the contrary I see it as managing growth.”

“Fortunately for Read, Vogue and its [UK] stablemates are holding up relatively well in print,” Williams writes. “On his promotion Read took the radical step of ceasing monthly publication of Glamour magazine, an ‘outlier’ targeting a mass rather than an elite audience.”

I find that fascinating, as the swing from mass to niche continues. For Reed, the challenge lies in turning each title into a successful collection of business streams.

“There are events such as Wired Health, a conference hosted by the technology title Wired; Vogue has launched a digital business-to-business publication and is considering a move into corporate consulting, while Tatler will introduce a kind of Yellow Pages, allowing Harley Street doctors and private tutors to target its wealthy readers,” Williams writes.

For Read, their success in these new channels comes down to the power of the brand.

“We have to be very careful about how we use it, but we do have this enormous power of validation,” says Read.  Maintaining that brand equity is paramount, Read believes.

I think all the editors are as good as they can be, and I’m very, very impressed by the producing creativity that’s coming out of the magazines and the websites,” he says. 

While he embraces digital channels as a necessity, he has mixed opinions about third-party content distribution and the role of tech giants in publishing.

“We get a lot of traffic from them and we work with them on a commercial basis,” Read explains. But I am also very mindful of the way they are monetizing content they have not paid to produce.”

Interestingly, he is not expecting his brands to participate on Apple News+ when it rolls out in the UK this year.

The future will most certainly not look like the past, Read understands, and the magazine industry is changing perhaps more quickly than he would like. Still, with a reliance on the saving grace of its solid brand, doom is not in the forecast.