HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 7, 2011, 2:20 p.m.

Condé Nast: magazine publisher, app inventor

The publisher is broadening its base of products by building apps that have nothing to do with journalism, magazines, or traditional media.

(A Santa clause: Spoilers lie ahead.)

Last week Condé Nast debuted a free web app called Santa’s Hideout, a registry for children’s Christmas gifts. Kids browse a virtual toy store and build a wish list; parents set spending limits and share the list with friends and family. If someone buys a gift, Santa checks it off the list for all elves (but not kids) to see. Kids can even write to Santa, and the reply arrives with spoofed email headers from the North Pole.

Cool app. So why is a magazine publisher building it?

“I guess I would start there and say that we don’t consider ourselves only a magazine publisher,” said Drew Schutte, the chief integration officer at Condé Nast.

“A year or so we took the word ‘publications’ off the building and took it off of our business cards,” he told me. “There was this final commitment to the fact that we are a company that makes quality content…and we’re going to put that on whatever medium it makes sense.”

It’s a startup-like approach that more media companies are taking as they try to diversify revenue.

Santa’s Hideout is the company’s second offshoot app, after Idea Flight. Neither app bears Condé branding; both have a built-in revenue model. Idea Flight, an iPad app for business presentations, is a free download with paid feature upgrades. Santa’s Hideout is powered by Amazon’s API, and as participants in Amazon’s Associates program the company gets a cut of every purchase.

The head elf was Julianna Stock, who manages a small team of digital experimenters at Condé Nast. The idea came when Stock asked her son what he wanted for Christmas and he refused to answer. He had already told Santa, he said. “I was sort of in a quandary and I felt like I needed a solution,” Stock said. And that’s the mission of her team: Solve problems as you encounter them, even if the solution does not have an obvious business application.

“You never know where that’s going to lead,” Schutte said. “This product…may sell on its own right. Maybe the software has applicability across the company. Maybe it’s something that we spin off into another company one day.”

Editor’s Note: You can find more examples of news organizations selling non-news products in our 2011 holiday gift guide.

POSTED     Dec. 7, 2011, 2:20 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
Running a sports league and running a news operation aren’t the same thing. But there are lessons to be learned from baseball’s success in navigating mobile.
Why The New York Times built a tool for crowdsourced time travel
Madison, a new tool that asks readers to help identify ads in the Times archives, is part of a new open source platform for crowdsourcing built by the company’s R&D Lab.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism
SeeClickFix
The Dish
Bayosphere
ESPN
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
INDenverTimes
Newsmax
Outside.in
Center for Public Integrity
Sports Illustrated
California Watch