Exclusive: Hearst’s Kang Joins Wenner Media As Chief Digital Officer

Wenner Media is filling the chief digital officer position that Michael Bloom left in November, after just six months on the job: David Kang, who was Hearst’s creative director of content extensions for less than a year, will take on the role starting January 20.
Wenner Media’s digital strategy has been more cautious than those of its competitors. In May 2011, Jann Wenner told AdAge that magazine publishers’ “rush” to the iPad was “premature.” Since then, it has made some moves that suggest it has become more of a believer in the iPad and in the importance of a more aggressive digital strategy. It has offered a Rolling Stone-branded Beatles guide for the tablet, and published Rolling Stones’ current content and complete archives online. It plans to launch digital replicas of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly for the iPad this year.
In Kang’s new position, he will have full P&L responsibility for the digital side of Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. Kang had been at Hearst since March 2011; his job there was to develop multiplatform franchises across the company’s brands, including digital apps, mobile sites and e-books–Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan e-singles, for instance. He also helped create Hearst’s new branded YouTube channel.
The position at Wenner Media was “too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Kang told paidContent. He is “an avid hard rock guitar player,” so “having an opportunity to work for an iconic music brand like Rolling Stone is an ‘Almost Famous’ moment for me.”
In his new role, Kang will “focus on a brand-centric model” that serves fans “based on preferences, data and a seamless multiplatform experience with multiple revenue streams.” He also told paidContent he’ll look to strategic partnerships with companies like Spotify, and to deepen relationships with advertisers through multiplatform integrated deals and branded entertainment campaigns.
Wenner says traffic across its three websites has increased sharply over the last year, using comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) figures to illustrate the point: Monthly unique visitors were up 54 percent for the twelve-month period ending in November 2011, compared to the previous year. Combined, the three brands attract 13.2 million unique monthly visitors and and 4.8 million monthly unique mobile visitors.