Time Warner has embraced the digital side in selecting the new chief of its Time Inc. magazine unit – Laura Lang, CEO of digital advertising firm Digitas.
After various outlets, including this one, reported the news Wednesday morning, the company announced its decision later in the day. In an obvious nod to the need to grow digital revenues, the press release noted that Lang has been in charge of the largest digital marketing agency in the world.
"Laura’s leadership experience, brand management experise, understanding of digital and marketing. and strong relationships with the creative and advertising communities are a great fit for Time Inc.," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a statement. "She is the right person to lead the company as it aggressively evolves its businesses during a time of great change and opportunity in publishing.
The hire comes nine months after Bewkes fired Jack Griffin, who ran the nation’s largest magazine publisher for less than six months.
At the time, Bewkes said in a memo to employees that “Griffin’s leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner.”
The trio of Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey oversaw Time Inc. while its parent company looked for a successor to Griffin.
Lang, who joined Digitas in 1999, has run the company since 2008. As magazines grapple with the digital transition and Time institutes its 'content everywhere' strategy, Lang’s background in integrated advertising was a big draw.
Time Inc. has planned to release tablet editions of every one of its 21 magazines by the end of the year, though a few of its most popular titles like Sports Illustrated and People have had such editions for some time.
The company has adopted a different revenue model than competitors like Conde Nast and Hearst. Time print subscribers get the tablet edition for free, but no digital subscriptions are available, meaning other consumers must purchase individual digital copies.
This is part of an effort to preserve the popularity of the traditional print and satisfy the demands of those readers. Unlike Hearst and Conde’s titles, Time’s publications are not available in the Apple Newsstand.
While some of its magazines, like People, remain quite successful, several others have been losing ad revenue. In Time Warner’s most recent earnings report, the magazine division saw overall revenue fall 1 percent.