Bob is out and a new CEO is (eventually) coming… so what exactly is going on at Condé Nast? We went straight to the top and got the answers from Pamela Drucker Mann, the company’s chief revenue and marketing officer.
There’s been a flurry of executive changes at Condé Nast in recent months — please walk us through your role and responsibilities.
I’ve been at Condé Nast for a little over 10 years. I started out as a publisher, and I worked on brands such as Jane, Glamour, and then Bon Appétit. Then I moved to the Food Innovation Group, and then I moved into the chief marketing officer role. I love thinking about new ways to innovate. But at the core, I’m very much a revenue person, so a year after I became CMO, they added the revenue responsibilities to my title. Today, I run all marketing and revenue for Condé Nast.
How are those groups structured at the moment?
At our corporate summit in November, we made a big statement that we were transitioning from a publishing company to a full-fledged media company. We make a lot of content for our owned-and-operated platforms, but we also make a ton of content for Facebook and Instagram. We’re YouTube’s biggest content partners. And so we needed to create a structure that matched the way we were connecting with our audiences every day. I wanted the person who was running fashion for the company to be able to go to see one client and talk about 10 things, as opposed to 10 different people from my company going to the same client to talk about those same 10 things. So we organized our company by three divisions, and now we have three CBOs — chief business officers — who manage a collection of brands.
Look at them as brand managers. They’re creating the go-to markets; they’re like the faces of the brands. Susan Plagemann runs style—she’s got Vogue, GQ, Glamour, W, Brides, and Allure. Separate of that, she runs beauty and fashion on behalf of the entire company. She’s talking to the CEO of Gucci all the time, and what a great opportunity for her to share with the CEO of Gucci all the ways that our company can be a better partner. The CBO who runs Bon Appétit also happens to own the home and [consumer packaged goods] categories. We can also bring scale as an advantage to a lot of the new ways that we’re working with our partners. So we just move a lot faster. I can use the word “agile,” and it actually is a real thing.
Which buzzwords are you hearing the most as 2019 progresses? “Video,” “branded content,” “Instagram”…?
Marketers are realizing that technology is enabling them to get closer to their consumer than ever before, but what do you say to them when you get in front of them? I was at CES [the Consumer Electronics Show] in Las Vegas, and there was a massive discussion about how when content is not scarce, the scarcity becomes good content. “Content” isn’t just about the content we make; it’s also the content our advertisers make. What does it really mean to earn attention? You’re seeing a different approach and a different level of investment. Of course, people are still talking about safety and data breach, and how the customer feels about that.
What’s the latest with Condé Nast’s video business?
The video business is insane. We’re like babies in this business, and it’s kind of fun to be the new kid on the block for once. We launched our entertainment division five years ago, and we were nowhere. By the way, the marketplace wasn’t a big digital world yet. YouTube had a huge head start, especially around user-generated content. If you think about digital video content in general, it wasn’t really good content. It was really fun and viral, but the idea of watching a new series that was developed specifically for digital video…that wasn’t something that most users would definitely check the box for and be like, “Oh, yeah.” It wasn’t winning Emmys or any major awards. The video digital space is getting a lot more competitive, which is way better for users. Consumer habits are changing, and we’re getting more comfortable with watching long-form content on our smartphones. We just completed our first upfront, and we’re competing with all the broadcast networks for the first time. We’re not trying to be the biggest; we’re trying to be the best.