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Condé Nast’s Global CEO, Roger Lynch, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “Condé Nast Is Fortunate In Having Leading Brands That Consumers Trust And Are Willing To Pay For.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

December 26, 2019

Mr. Magazine™ Presents… Conversations With Magazine and Magazine Media Leaders…

Condé Nast’s first global CEO, Roger Lynch, is stepping into 2020 with opportunity on his mind. Roger believes that today’s magazine media companies are missing the boat if they’re not seeing the bigger picture: their creative talents and the consumers’ appetite for high quality content. And when you have tried and true content, trustworthy through many years of dedication, as Condé Nast does with all of its iconic brands, the future looks very bright indeed.

Mr. Magazine™ invites you to enjoy this conversation with Roger Lynch, global CEO, Condé Nast, as we continue to delve into the world of magazine and magazine media, with the people who make the industry we all love go-round.

©Nicol Biesek

But first the sound-bites:

On his assessment of the future of magazines and magazine media: I think companies that think of themselves as magazine companies are missing the broader opportunities. These companies are creative companies with really talented journalists and storytellers. The technology and media that are used by consumers to engage with this content will continue to change over many years. What will never change is the appetite and need for the highest quality content. Condé Nast has a huge opportunity in front of us to define what it is to be a modern global media company, and to actively shape the future of our industry.

On any accomplishments Condé Nast realized in 2019: We launched new editions of Wired in the Middle East and South Korea, brought La Cucina Italiana to the U.S. and Serbia and launched new editions of Vogue in Greece and Hong Kong. We introduced unique resources for industry audiences like AD Pro and Vogue Business and Vogue Business in China.

On what he considers the biggest challenge he failed to overcome in 2019: 2019 was a year of transition for Condé Nast, and 2020 will bring even more change. So the challenge for us is to navigate that transition and it’s ongoing.

On his approach to the future business models for the Condé Nast brands: With so much free, and even misleading, content available today, I believe consumers are increasingly looking for sources they can trust. I also believe that they are willing to pay for certain types of content that they value and know they can trust. Condé Nast is fortunate in having leading brands that consumers trust and are willing to pay for. I believe our opportunity lies in engaging with consumers on the platforms that they want to engage with us on, and in providing the highest quality content.

On whether he considers social media a friend or foe to magazines and magazine media: Magazines used to provide one of a very limited ways for brands to reach their consumers. Social media has dramatically expanded the number of ways brands can reach their consumers. Magazines without high quality and highly differentiated content have undoubtedly suffered from the growth in social media and the access to all kinds of content that it enables. I do believe social media can be a friend to companies who produce high quality and highly differentiated content if these companies use social media as a new way to broaden their audience reach. Social media needs companies that produce this high quality content and content companies need social media to reach larger audiences and promote their content.

On whether the honeymoon stage is over now after all these months on the job: It’s actually only been eight months! The honeymoon is just beginning! We announced our new global structure back in August, and have announced a number of new executive appointments within the last month. It’s a pretty even split of existing and new leaders, and I’m excited to see what new ideas begin to surface once we start working together in the new year.

On whether all the travel he has to do for his job was what he expected: This actually isn’t the most travel I’ve ever had to do for a job — years ago, I was commuting from L.A. to London every other week! But I’ve loved having the opportunity to meet our teams in different markets, learning about how they run their business, and gaining a better understanding of the complexities inherent to each region.

On what keeps him up at night: Jet lag from all the travel!

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Roger Lynch, global CEO, Condé Nast.

Samir Husni: As we approach 2020 what is your assessment of the future of magazines and magazine media?

Roger Lynch:  I think companies that think of themselves as magazine companies are missing the broader opportunities. These companies are creative companies with really talented journalists and storytellers. The technology and media that are used by consumers to engage with this content will continue to change over many years. What will never change is the appetite and need for the highest quality content. Condé Nast has a huge opportunity in front of us to define what it is to be a modern global media company, and to actively shape the future of our industry. And we have  an exceptional arsenal at our disposal to help make it happen: a portfolio of iconic brands, world-class content creators, exceptional video capabilities, immense global scale and loyal and influential audiences that consistently and regularly interact with us in new and evolving ways.

Samir Husni: What are three accomplishments or successes from 2019 at Condé Nast?

Roger Lynch: We launched new editions of Wired in the Middle East and South Korea, brought La Cucina Italiana to the U.S. and Serbia and launched new editions of Vogue in Greece and Hong Kong. We introduced unique resources for industry audiences like AD Pro and Vogue Business and Vogue Business in China.

In video, we created 100 digital pilots in the U.S., launched Bon Appetit’s OTT channel and GQ Sports and introduced new concepts across 50+ channels in 11 markets.

We’ve also made significant progress in reorganizing ourselves to better facilitate our evolution into a modern media company, we’ve created new ways of working together globally, and we’ve put talented leaders in place to help us continue our transformation. We’ve only just begun to tap into what’s possible when we work together as one global team, and the opportunity ahead has never been greater.

Samir Husni: What do you consider the biggest challenge that you failed to overcome in 2019, if any?

Roger Lynch: 2019 was a year of transition for Condé Nast, and 2020 will bring even more change. So the challenge for us is to navigate that transition and it’s ongoing.

Samir Husni: Magazine Media folks keep on talking about the need to change the revenue business model for magazines and magazine media. What is your approach to the future business model of magazines and magazine media?

Roger Lynch: With so much free, and even misleading, content available today, I believe consumers are increasingly looking for sources they can trust. I also believe that they are willing to pay for certain types of content that they value and know they can trust. Condé Nast is fortunate in having leading brands that consumers trust and are willing to pay for. I believe our opportunity lies in engaging with consumers on the platforms that they want to engage with us on, and in providing the highest quality content. If we continue to do this well, consumers will be increasingly willing to pay to engage with brands like ours. This will enable us to have a more balanced mix of consumer and advertiser revenue.

Samir Husni: Do you think social media (in its many different platforms) is a friend or a foe to magazine media and why?

Roger Lynch: Magazines used to provide one of a very limited ways for brands to reach their consumers. Social media has dramatically expanded the number of ways brands can reach their consumers. Magazines without high quality and highly differentiated content have undoubtedly suffered from the growth in social media and the access to all kinds of content that it enables. I do believe social media can be a friend to companies who produce high quality and highly differentiated content if these companies use social media as a new way to broaden their audience reach. Social media needs companies that produce this high quality content and content companies need social media to reach larger audiences and promote their content. I do believe this symbiotic relationship between content companies and social media will need to continue to change so that the economics provide a better balance for the value these content companies provide.

Samir Husni: After nine months on the job, is the honeymoon, if there was one, over with the team and have we seen the last of the changes of the guard?

Roger Lynch: It’s actually only been eight months! The honeymoon is just beginning! We announced our new global structure back in August, and have announced a number of new executive appointments within the last month. It’s a pretty even split of existing and new leaders, and I’m excited to see what new ideas begin to surface once we start working together in the new year.

©Nicol Biesek

Samir Husni: You are on the road most of the time, is that what you imagined the job to be and what are some of the “hidden” surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant) that you have discovered on the job?

Roger Lynch: This actually isn’t the most travel I’ve ever had to do for a job — years ago, I was commuting from L.A. to London every other week! But I’ve loved having the opportunity to meet our teams in different markets, learning about how they run their business, and gaining a better understanding of the complexities inherent to each region.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Roger Lynch: Jet lag from all the travel!

Samir Husni:  Thank you.

Next up, Troy Young, president. Hearst Magazines.

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