Merging print and digital operations has been the trend for magazine publishers over the last few years. Bauer Media isn’t following it though.
The entertainment and teen magazine publisher is launching a digital division, Bauer Xcel Media, with a team of 24 across editorial, technology, design, marketing and product management. Christian Baesler, formerly VP of new media for the company, will head up the unit as president.
"The tools required for being successful are very different between online and print," Baesler says. "Online editors have a direct feedback channel—they can see in real-time how many people are reading their articles, where traffic is coming from and where users are going next. Thus, you need a team completely focused on digital to execute stories in a way that fits that channel best."
Baesler adds that the team will look to expand over the next few months. Its more immediate goal will be relaunching InTouchWeekly.com though. Scheduled to go live in September, it’ll be the fourth Bauer relaunch since last year.
Monthly uniques at the new sites—J-14.com, M-Magazine.com and TwistMagazine.com—and for Bauer as a whole, are up triple digits over 2013, per Google Analytics numbers provided by the company. In all, Bauer’s drawing 15 million uniques a month.
But traffic doesn’t mean much without revenue behind it.
"When we started two years ago, our sites were not large enough to build a viable direct ad sales business model, so we started scaling the business mostly by partnerships with other ad companies that had the scale already," Baesler says. "Now that we have significantly increased the size of our websites, it made sense to expand more into the direct sales area as well. As a result, in March we brought on Christopher Yates, an extremely experienced digital sales executive, to ramp up our digital direct sales operations. Our goal is on creating products and unique ad integrations that will truly provide ‘premium’ value and results to ‘premium’ advertisers."