NEW YORK, United States — A shakeup in the executive ranks at Condé Nast suggests the coming months won't be quiet as it attempts to transform itself from a print-led publisher into a major digital player. On Monday, the New York-based owner of titles like Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker announced the appointment of Jim Norton to the newly created role of chief business officer and president of revenue, reporting to president and chief executive Bob Sauerberg. Norton spent the last seven years at AOL managing global media sales. His arrival coincides with the departure of Edward Menicheschi, who was most recently Condé Nast's chief marketing officer and previously spent eight years as the publisher of Vanity Fair. Menicheschi had been with the company almost continuously since 1986. Chief administrative officer Jill Bright, who led talent recruiting from 1996 to 2010 before being promoted to the c-suite, is also departing after 23 years.
“By organising the company’s numerous revenue operations under Jim, Condé Nast will be well positioned to quickly respond to the dynamic marketplace and our clients’ needs,” Sauerberg said in a statement. “Jim brings a great understanding of the complexities of running a massive sales enterprise and the importance of data-led sales products to maximise our effectiveness. His digital and video media expertise, vast relationships with top global advertisers and commitment to business innovation, will be instrumental in our continued transformation into a next generation multi-media company.”
Norton’s arrival will lay the groundwork for long-coming changes that are likely to be implemented before the beginning of 2017, when new budgets kick in. While Condé Nast did not respond to request for comment on the latest executive departures or potential restructuring, whether or not all of its titles will survive — there are seven in the women's interest category alone — is another question. Last year, Condé Nast shuttered Details. Lucky was quietly closed just over a year after it was merged with the the troubled Los Angeles-based e-commerce start-up Beachmint. And Style.com was transformed into an e-commerce site, which launched in the UK in September.
But one thing's for sure: Condé Nast employees on both the company's advertising and editorial teams anticipate layoffs in the coming months. After utilising the services of consulting firms McKinsey & Company and FTI Consulting in the past to help cut costs, MediaLink — a strategy firm best known for helping traditional media companies capitalise on new technology opportunies, which has long counted Condé as a client — was hired this fall to consult on restructuring.
Condé Nast needs a shakeup to ensure its longtime survival, especially as fast-growing competitors like Refinery29 and Vice continue to attract large digital audiences. It’s no coincidence that the company's statement announcing Norton’s arrival touted the success of 23 Stories, the branded-content studio launched in January 2015 by Menicheschi. Norton’s experience at AOL — creating content-rich advertising which earns a higher cost-per-thousand impressions than the cheaper, targeted advertising companies like Google or Facebook sell — indicates that Condé Nast might finally be willing to rely less on reputation and more on innovation to empower its brands in the future.
"Coordinating our numerous revenue operations under one leader is an important step toward our ONE company focus we introduced in January, and empowers our teams to be more responsive to the marketplace," Sauerberg wrote in an internal memo announcing the shifts to employees. "This new streamlined structure also aligns the company around our goals to extend our leadership position in the print business, realize the vast digital and video potential of our brands and develop new revenue streams."