Web Sitings: An App Worthy of the Main Course?
When Condé Nast ceased publication of its monthly print magazine Gourmet in December 2009, the publishing giant noted that Gourmet's recipes, book publishing and TV features would all be folded into sister brand Epicurious.com. So maybe it wasn't a total surprise when news leaked that Condé Nast was bringing the Gourmet brand back.
What may have been a surprise, however, was the format in which Gourmet was returning. In late June, Condé Nast announced that it would be launching Gourmet Live as a digital content app for mobile smartphones. Slated to debut in Q4 2010, the app will be free to download-with registration required-followed by paid content options.
Gourmet Live is the result of a collaboration with Activate, a strategy and technology consulting company. It will be developed in HTML5 with the goal of being available across a variety of platforms and devices.
Not Your Mother's Gourmet
While the print magazine isn't coming back any time soon, Gourmet's extensive archives will be. The Gourmet Live app will feature the archived content curated in new ways. With a new editorial team in place, however, make no mistake that this app isn't just a digital version of the magazine.
"Gourmet Live is profoundly different than anything we've done before," says Juliana Stock, creative marketing director for Condé Nast's Consumer Marketing. "It offers a rich client experience with real-time processing, delivering content based on behaviors, social connections, payment, location and more."
Free vs. Paid Content
The Gourmet brand's business model is evolving along with its format. Formerly reliant on ad sales and, to a lesser degree, subscriptions, Gourmet Live will be a "consumer-revenue-focused product," says Stock. Some advertising sponsorship opportunities will exist, but Condé Nast anticipates that representing a smaller percentage overall.
The company believes Gourmet fans will be willing to pay for content via a monthly charge, as well as through a new Condé Nast venture: digital gaming.
Gaming, one of the hottest trends online, figures to play a prominent role in Gourmet's new format. Gourmet Live will feature monetization structures, like virtual currency, typical in digital economies like gaming. Readers will be able to purchase premium content with the app's virtual currency.
The publisher believes such innovation will help lure new fans. "There's mass interest across multiple media ... with consumers hungry for food content ... and willing to pay for it," notes Stock. "On top of that, Gourmet Live encompasses social, location and gaming features that are huge trends."
Leveraging Social Media
Taking advantage of Gourmet Live's digital status, Condé Nast has made social media a "cornerstone of this product," Stock says; users must sign in to Facebook or Twitter to access the app. This was done to encourage content sharing. For example, readers can "favorite" a recipe to share with friends via the social networking sites. With a branded Twitter account and Facebook page, Gourmet Live is positioning itself to engage readers in multiple ways.
Location-based technology is also part of the app's draw. For example, readers in different areas of the country will be served customized recipes, dining recommendations based on the time of day and their locations, reviews on area restaurants, and other location-based content. In Chicago for a business conference? Condé Nast wants you to check out the Gourmet Live app for your dinner options.
In step with many other publishers trying to tap new revenue streams in the face of declining print sales, Gourmet's future is digital. Approaching this product with a high-tech base, Condé Nast is utilizing the rich assets of a media company to try to reinvent an iconic brand. PE