Hearst Revamps Online Magazines for Mobile Generation


Publishing powerhouse Hearst is embarking on a new strategy to change the way people consume editorial content, also giving rise to providing more integrated brand experiences offered by advertisers. Over the next several months, Hearst Digital Media’s portfolio of magazines will be getting a new look and feel.

The publisher is responsible for several major magazines including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Popular Mechanics, Road and Track, Town & Country and Esquire, just to name a few. According to Tom Smith, vice president of technology and strategy at Hearst, the company is moving to an entirely new publishing platform that fosters a more responsive design on mobile as well as personalization options. The first two magazines making the switch to this new platform will be RoadandTrack.com and TownandCountryMag.com.

Major publishers like Hearst are beginning to realize that mobile holds a lot of promise for the industry as a whole, and are scrambling to build sites and content that are optimized for viewing on smartphones or tablet computers. Limited screen-size has been a barrier for content creators to overcome in order to retain the original design of a title’s brand, as well as to provide optimum opportunities to advertisers to move towards the mobile medium.

According to an article in TechCrunch, the long-term personalization strategy may be more significant for Hearst. Essentially, Smith mentioned that Hearst titles can take the data that they already use to show different ads to different audience segments and target editorial content as well. Contextually relevant advertising that is targeted to each consumer is not really something new to advertisers, but brands will gravitate towards the ability to leverage existing behavioral targeting data.

“That’s something marketers understand,” Smith stated, although people are still wrapping their heads around it on the editorial side, so the personalization is relatively limited so far.

Hearst is dipping its toes into the personalization feature for advertisers, initially citing the example of showing a different set of recommended content links to different readers of the same article, depending on the demographic profile of the reader including location, device used to access the content, and link history and path to the current page. Also, Smith mentioned that a magazine could potentially create several different versions of an editorial promotion with different headlines and images designed to draw the attention of disparate audiences.

Mobile Brand Integration

Mobile media company Zumobi, which spun out of Microsoft Research back in 2006, has been helping define the future of mobile publishing and advertising since its inception. The company works with top publishers and brands to build mobile apps that convey native brand experiences for companies like: American Express, Dwell, Motor Trend and NBC News. Brands can leverage the power of the premium apps on the Zumobi network and take advantage of the innate features of their ZBi rich-media ad and publishing platform to drive successful mobile campaigns with high click-through rates.

Advertisers love these integrated brand experiences because they incorporate an elegant blend of rich-media expandable ad units, contextually relevant content and useful social features to drive engagement beyond the typical mobile banner. For example, one of the apps they created, Ski and Snow Report, allows people to receive weather updates and snowfall information about their favorite ski resorts around the country. Also, Zumobi created the Relish Daily Dish recipe app that gives users the ability to search through thousands or recipes and develop customized shopping lists on-the-fly that can be saved onto their mobile devices for their next visit to the market.

“Zumobi is all about mobile first,” said Marla Schimke, VP of marketing at Zumobi, who was recently named as one of the “Mobile Women to Watch” by Mobile Marketer. “Today there are more mobile devices than people, yet brands are still focused on designing advertising for the TV screen. According to Forbes, Super Bowl ads cost $8M per minute but imagine how many people a brand could reach for $8M on mobile. During and after the Super Bowl, my friends and family where certainly on their mobile devices engaging in the game commentary and social media antics of friends and experts. Why wasn’t mobile a bigger part of the Super Bowl ad campaigns? Imagine the brand loyalty that could have been achieved with more mobile and social integrated into the commercials. Zumobi offers massive opportunities for brands to reach consumers by harnessing the innate qualities of the mobile platform.”


  1. Great article highlighting an effort to advance the industry for all players by doing what consumers want and then exceeding their expectations. By deploying data in support of great user experiences, publishers can encourage sharing of more data. It is possible to do this in a privacy friendly way. Next challenge: a solution to trade those rich ad experiences in exchanges.


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