Tuesday, June 14, 2011
MagNet11: Wired.com's Evan Hansen talks web

June 7

Tonight I attended the marquee talk at MagNet 2011, featuring Evan Hansen of Wired. I was too busy live-tweeting to take proper notes so thankfully Graham F. Scott agreed to share his with me (he live-blogged the event with the help of Chantal Braganza) so I could share some key points. Have a fantastic magazines week!

Wired.com now receives 10 million visitors monthly, fourfold over when Hansen started. 13 MM unique visitors/month; 43 (!) full-time and freelance editors, writers, photographers; ~40 posts/day. ~200 videos/year; ~880,000 Twitter followers, 243,000 Facebook fans. Web team is independent of magazine. Magazine content produces 5% of Wired.com’s web traffic.

Questions to think about: “What is the essence of a magazine?” How far can the concept stretch before it’s not a magazine anymore? What are the core values that editors, writers, etc., need to preserve?

Digital companies have accrued all the value that media companies have lost. Big scary numbers on the slide. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the old story.” The “new story” promises to shift the balance back to publishers and media brands.

Online ad sales and app subscriptions will exceed print revenues in the near future: “Digital 51″ — when 51% of media company revenues come from digital. “For Wired, that moment is almost here.” Digital operations are now 40% of Wired’s overall brand revenue.

“When I look at the web right now I see a cluttered mess.” “Link roulette” occurs when publishers just throw on a bunch of links to see what sticks. Apps offer a less cluttered, more focused design aesthetic.

Consumer attitudes toward payments are starting to change. One-click payments will make convenient ways for people to pay, people will see value, and they’ll pay for content.

Scoops are important online: generate a huge amount of traffic online. Investigative is worth the investment online.

8 lessons of digital success:

1. Don’t think platforms. Think brand. Stop thinking print first; it’s just part of the brand.

2. Your core product is community, not content. Example: Wired started a Ning.com site around the Haiti earthquake, and now has 2,000 community members there, including 80 engineers talking about building earthquake-resistant buildings.

3. Let technology lead editorial strategy. Eight of top 10 media companies in the world are digital (i.e., Google, Apple, etc.).

4. The web is not dead.

5. Pay attention to your advertisers. People will sell ads through networks: huge disadvantage. Custom campaigns are better, brand first. Advertisers will pay for brand affiiliations. They don’t want banners and buttons on the website; they want events, content, to be part of the editorial ecosystem.

6. Scale up.

7. Keep an eye on costs.

8. The web is the web. If you want to succeed there, don’t act like a magazine, act like a website.

[Note to Graham: you're not being a fogey worrying about the ad-edit line. My opinion: the key is to be very clear to the readers about what comes from whom. You have to respect readers' trust in your brand in how you present everything: ads, editorial, etc.]

- Kat Tancock
About Me
Kat Tancock
Kat Tancock is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant based in Toronto. She has worked on the sites of major brands including Reader's Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada and Style at Home and teaches the course Creating Website Editorial at Ryerson University.
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