Weekend Reading: Hearst Steps Up Interactive Strategy

In the first half of 2007, Hearst’s relatively new digital media group launched 19 sites (14 web, 5 mobile) — all part of its post-iVillage super-charge strategy to engage readers across platforms and especially to drive younger readers to print. Chuck Cordray, VP and GM of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, explained to MediaShift’s Mark Glaser in a lengthy interview: “This is about brand reinforcement, not about cannibalization.” Cordray said the likelihood of an online visitor to subscribe to a print magazine has gone up by 50 percent and that some sites have more than doubled subscription interest.

The company is building its online universe in other ways, too — launching online-only sites and spending on acquisitions, including Kaboodle and UGO in recent weeks, eCrush before that. Before the group was created in March 2006, when its investment in iVillage essentially was the online strategy, everything was outsourced and technology was rudimentary, to put it mildly. In the time since, Digital Media has implemented circulation and content management systems that intersect, allowing maximum flexibility for marketing subscriptions. Cordray: “It was eight to 12 offers, and now we