ANTHONY THORNTON, editor NME.com
Don't fuck with the magic. It's that simple. Oh, and don't just
transpose the magazine online and expect it to work. But apart from
that, taking a brand online is easy.
The NME wandered on to the net in June 1996, a little dazed and a little
confused but on the right side of adequate. By November 1998 NME.com
needed someone with good editorial experience and vision who knew the
web intimately. That's where I came in.
The entire online brand had to be quickly refocused concentrating on
four core issues. How should it integrate with the paper and other NME
properties? Which of the core values of the brand should be promoted
online? Which values should be played down? After nearly 50 years, could
it face up to the prospect of being a truly global brand?
NME and NME.com had to work together to complement each other or the
website was doomed - seriously damaging the brand. There was a small
amount of resistance from some more traditional staff - but as the
benefits rolled in (increased subscriptions, greater brand awareness,
huge figures, one of the best music sites in the world), the NME brand
began to work closer together as one machine. Albeit one with uneroded
The NME brand had three aspects tailor-made for the web - information,
attitude and community. It was the form in which these were delivered
that had to be completely redefined; NME.com had to deliver music
information precisely when it was needed and how it was needed. As it
happened - anywhere in the world. NME became genuinely global.
Attitude was shifted from the staff to the online community. NME.com
gave the attitude full vent with more than 50 message boards - open all
day and night.
The advantage of these moves was that the NME brand became a more
immediate and continuous experience. The weekly fix became a constant
one. And the benefits are obvious.
But the process of evaluation is not a one-off affair - the evolution of
the website has influenced the evolution of the paper and as it moves
on, this in turn is influencing the direction of the website.
ANTHONY GOTTLIEB - editor Economist.com
We've put all of The Economist online each Thursday evening since early
1997. This achieved three things for us: it enabled us to get our
articles to our readers around the world more quickly (this was the most
popular aspect of our site); it gave them a searchable archive; and it
brought us new readers, thanks to links from other sites. Our name is a
bit of a drawback in one respect: people who don't know the magazine
understandably think it is all about economics. Our site has helped to
spread the word about what it really is: a global 'viewspaper' with
news, opinion and analysis on current affairs, business, science and
Now Economist.com has moved way beyond that: it is not only promoting
and supporting the print magazine, it is changing what we do. Since
October 2000 we've had a much more ambitious site. We publish articles,
which do not appear in print, throughout the week. So we can analyse and
opine in a more timely fashion, without having to wait for Thursdays.
We've filled a gap in the market for travel information by providing
online city guides for business travellers - a natural service to offer
our highly mobile audience. We provide all sorts of ways for readers to
dig deeper into the background of stories when they want to. And we're
packaging information and services from outside sources, to build a
one-stop-shop for political and business information: global market
tracking, newswires and an archive of thousands of external
publications. On the lighter side, we have a daily current affairs quiz,
Infrequently Asked Questions, which is proving popular. And there is
plenty more coming.
In the next few weeks we'll be launching the web's most comprehensive
country-briefing service, together with our sister organisation, the
Economist Intelligence Unit, and a careers microsite, called the Global
ABIGAIL CHISMAN - editor-in-chief Conde Nast Online
At Conde Nast, we have always played to our strengths by using our
world-class brands in establishing our online businesses. Ever since the
Vogue site launched in 1997, we have striven to create a compelling and
original online proposition that complements rather than competes with
the magazine - and to ensure the site could generate new revenue streams
of its own. There are no hard and fast rules about how to build a
successful website, as the demise of so many valiant start-ups last year
However, the following ingredients are crucial: a strong brand name;
entertaining and informative content, tailored specifically to the web;
and a good reason to be online at all.
It sounds obvious, but one thing that continues to amaze us about new
internet companies is how few offer a truly unique or valuable
Another is how existing offline companies fail to leverage or support
their brands properly online.
What we have endeavoured to do is add value to the Vogue brand, for both
the magazine's makers and its readers. For the magazine, as well as
giving Vogue the web presence it deserves, we generate hundreds of new
subscriptions every month. For the readers, we bring genuinely new
services, including breaking fashion news daily, plus the world's most
comprehensive coverage of the collections, featuring live footage and
tens of thousands of images from the shows in all four fashion
In general, we have avoided reusing the magazine's content, except to
establish our heritage. We have instead identified two types of content
that work best on the web: the latest news/live updates (see Vogue
Daily, webcams, etc) and searchable encyclopaedic information (hence our
seasonal shows coverage, the designer biographies, and stockists'
lists). Also, we strike the right balance between style and
functionality (no-one has time for beautiful sites with no purpose). And
we make sure that our readers find the information they want as quickly
as possible, with fast downloads and clear navigation.
All of these ideas contributed to the development of the site we
relaunched last May. Happily the internet is very accountable - so we
knew immediately just how successful we had been. Following our famous
ad campaign, we saw page impressions rocket from 7.5 million to 32.4
million and ad revenues soar 79 per cent year on year, which helped turn
Vogue.com into the biggest fashion site on the net and a financially
viable business in its own right.