Condé Nast is starting out the year with staff cuts to the Glamour magazine team, part of the parent company’s overall reorganization plan. According to WWD, Glamour cut staff last week, including an assistant editor and executive beauty editor. This news comes just two months after Glamour announced that the 80-year-old fashion and beauty magazine would cease publication at the beginning of this year. The January 2019 issue was the magazine’s last regular print issue. The magazine may, however, print special editions occasionally.
In 2017, Glamour moved to 11 issues from 12 and made a digital journalist the top editor at the magazine, reports The New York Times, moves that hinted at more changes to come. Last February, Glamour laid off 10 people and Vanity Fair laid off about a dozen on the print side of the house.
“Vanity Fair and Glamour are taking the first steps in reshaping their teams to reflect the new editorial directions of the brands – with new additions and initiatives to be announced shortly. The priority for each is to create quality and provocative content across all platforms equally, embracing the next generation of readers and viewers,” said Condé Nast of the layoffs.
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The layoffs and cessation of print come under the leadership of Samantha Barry, who was hired as Glamour’s editor-in-chief in January 2018. Barry was previously the executive producer for social and emerging media at CNN Worldwide. Though Glamour had steady readership of about 2.2 million print subscribers, Barry said that digital is the future for the well-known beauty brand, reports The New York Times. The magazine boasts about 6.3 million unique monthly visitors.
When Barry was hired, then Condé Nast president and CEO Bob Sauerberg, said, “As we continue to innovate our content and distribution to reach next generation audiences, it is critical that our content creators understand the symbiotic relationship between the audience, content and the best platforms to deliver each story and experience.”
“Samantha’s fluency in connecting with consumers in digital, social and video will give Glamour fans the content they love, and in ways that are most meaningful to them,” Sauerberg added.
“This isn’t like another magazine that is not going to make it,” Pamela Drucker Mann, chief marketing officer, for Condé Nast said when the magazine announced it would cease print publication. “This is about the evolution of a brand and what it means not just to redefine itself and grow, but also to liberate itself and have this ability to not only continue on, but to be more successful than it ever was.”
The changes at Glamour and Vanity Fair are part of a larger organizational restructuring that include the departure of Sauerberg, who will step down as Condé Nast and Condé Nast International combine to form one company overseen by a single CEO. Sauerberg will stay on until a replacement is found, reports AdWeek. As an 18-year veteran of Condé Nast, Sauerberg became the company’s CEO in January 2016. In addition to this change, Conde Nast is seeking a buyer for three of its brands – W, Brides and Golf Digest. Other past reorg moves include closing Details and ceasing print editions of Self and Teen Vogue, laying off 80 employees, and combining departments and functions to achieve cost savings to stem the 2017 loss of $120 million, according to The New York Times.
In an increasingly digital world, glossy print magazines are becoming harder to come by. A number of magazines have folded entirely, ceased print editions, reduced the number of print editions and/or the size of the magazine and moved to a digital-first philosophy, focusing on social presence, events and other revenue streams and away from meaty content. While these moves make sense as a new generation of magazine readers prefers to get its content online, it fails to consider the older demographic – readers like me – who grew up, loving the tactile feel of the magazine, eagerly anticipating each issue, wanting to savor every ad, photo and article as a package.
While readers like me are becoming the exception rather than the rule, we have disposable income to spend, and we will not be satisfied with a digital-only magazine experience. Magazines will lose advertising revenue from print advertisers as well as subscription revenue, at least until the paywall goes up. I might still read the occasional article online and, before my ad blindness kicks in, I might see the occasional ad, but when one magazine folds – literally – I’ll just find another print magazine to take its place on my coffee table. Flipping the pages of a digital magazine just doesn’t do it for me, and so far no paywalled magazine has intrigued me enough to subscribe – newspapers, yes, magazines, no. I think this is a missed opportunity, and I wish magazines publishers like Condé Nast could find another way to satisfy both new and old(er) readers while remaining financially sustainable.