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Condé Nast Goes to Market with ‘Next Generation Network’ 

The legacy publisher is packaging its new and digital-first brands, which now include Lenny Letter and a video venture, Iris, under one umbrella.
The "Broken" series which launched in 2017, now on Iris | Source: Courtesy
  • Chantal Fernandez

NEW YORK, United States — Condé Nast wants advertisers to know it has a diverse Generation Z and Millennial audience. After soft-launching at CES in January, the legacy publisher of Vogue and Vanity Fair is officially going to market with a collection of digital and social-first brands, which it's calling the Next Generation Network. The idea is to give advertisers the opportunity to tap into all of its newest brands at once, including Teen Vogue, Them, The Hive, GQ Style, Architectural Digest's Clever, Basically, Healthyish and two more recent additions: Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter, formerly partnered with Hearst, and Iris, a video brand for women that evolved out of Condé Nast's video platform The Scene. The network also includes Goop, which partnered with Condé Nast to produce its print magazine in 2017.

The Next Generation Network is the brainchild of Condé Nast’s chief revenue officer Pamela Drucker Mann, who took on that role in September 2017 in addition to her duties as chief marketing officer. Her appointment comes at a challenging time for the company, which continues to cut costs and consolidate its workforce to stem the declining revenue from print. (In the last few months, layoffs have taken place at GQ, Allure, and most recently, Vanity Fair and Glamour.)

Drucker Mann has focused on highlighting — and attempting to monetise — Condé Nast's newest voices and digital titles, starting with a Next Generation campaign released in spring 2017 that highlighted Teen Vogue's Phillip Picardi, GQ Style's Will Welch and other young leaders across the company.

With a digital audience of 40 million, the Next Generation Network’s collective audience is still relatively niche compared to Conde Nast as a whole, which reaches 120 million consumers across print, digital and video brands. What these new brands have done, however, is attract their own communities and audiences that are separate from their parent brands. For instance, The Hive is a business and financial news focused of Vanity Fair known for its focus on Washington. D.C., Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Collectively, 82 percent of the network’s audience are millennials.

“I am not pushing this as a scale play, this is an engagement play,” says Drucker Mann. “The amount of people is nowhere near as important anymore as what you can do with them.”

The way these brands deliver content is also different, and Condé Nast is offering advertisers the opportunity to not only buy traditional digital advertising, but also sign on as launch partners for new brands or tap into the editorial teams to create custom content and live events.

Newsletters are another valuable part of the strategy for Condé Nast. Consider Lenny Letter, which Drucker Mann says delivers a “different level of intimacy” with readers who are oversaturated with content from social media. Condé Nast linked up with the feminist and political newsletter in January 2018 after the title ended its troubled advertising partnership with Hearst Corporation, and will oversee its ad sales, business development and event programming. Lenny Letter content will be syndicated across some of Condé Nast’s brands and the title will collaborate with Glamour on a forthcoming political fiction series.

The newest title in the network is a video and social-media brand led by Lauren Lumsden, who joined Condé Nast a year ago to create original programming for The Scene, the video platform that generated one billion views in 2017. Condé Nast will maintain the Scene as a video aggregator while spinning out its most successful existing programming into the new brand, Iris, which targets “real women” with a median age of 26.

For Drucker Mann, the Next Generation Network represents an opportunity for the company to “take the lead in terms of curation,” she says. “The media world has been trying too hard at the end of the day… It’s about taste level and curation, which has been undervalued in the last couple of years. If you build great content, you will have a great following.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that The Scene will be shut down. This is incorrect. The Scene will continue as a video aggregator for the publisher. 

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