Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz on the Future of Digital Media
What’s the point of developing a great brand if you don’t take advantage of it? In the consumer products industry, the norm is to develop a great brand, then perform line extensions. Crest lends its name to Crest White Strips so consumers will trust them more. Disney’s trademarked princesses adorn adhesive bandages to spur kids to cover imaginary wounds; and Ralph Lauren finds his way into the paint aisle of Home Depot so I can be sure my new wall colors will be fashionable.
But these sorts of licensing and line extension deals have been more scarce in publishing. And it’s great to see that change.
According to reports from Russell Adams at The Wall Street Journal, bucking its historical resistance, Glamour has decided to seek more revenue by leveraging its brand into new product lines by partnering with IAC’s Match.com for the Glamour Matchmaker dating site, with IAC’s HSN on a new jewelry line, and with Like.com for an “Ask The Stylist“ app.
This is great news, and it bucks the recent countertrend in publishing of focusing on reducing costs. While others have been seduced by the allure of commodity content, Conde Nast is instead increasing its commitment to its premium brand. That’s the right move. For the leaders in digital media, their future success will be far better served by increasing the value of their premium brands and destinations — and by leveraging that value into new territory. Smart partnerships not only create more revenues, but also create broader reach for their brands and the opportunity to move beyond serving as just titles of published properties into more meaningful sector or lifestyle brands. And that means developing long-term deep relationships with consumers — which will be even more valuable in then feeding back into premium advertising rates based on increased reach and goodwill. It’s a formula that companies like Disney have mastered, with original content, experiences, and licensed products virtuously cycling to create more and more value.
For publishers like Conde Nast, now is a great time to set their brands free to do more. As a premium publisher, they invest in creating outstanding, differentiating content and experiences for their audiences. And they are doing a benefit to their consumers by extending their credentials to other categories.
My bet: Over the next 12 months, we’ll see other publishers following Conde Nast’s lead.