Condé Nast, the publisher of iconic lifestyle magazines, such as GQ and Vogue, plans to introduce digital paywalls to its entire range of titles in the US by the end of the year.

The move comes as the loss-making company seeks to reduce its reliance on advertising as a source of revenue and follows its decision in late 2014 to put The New Yorker behind a metered paywall.

According to the Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter”, The New Yorker generated around $115m in paid-subscription revenue in 2018, up 69% from 2015.

Two other Condé Nast titles, Wired and Vanity Fair, also sit behind paywalls that expect readers to subscribe if they want to access more than four articles each month.

Pamela Drucker Mann, Condé Nast’s chief revenue and marketing officer who has advanced the company’s paywall strategy, told the Journal that she didn’t expect any of the affected titles to lose their digital audiences. “When you put a price tag on something, that must mean you have confidence in the product,” she said.

Also speaking to the Journal, Monica Ray, Condé Nast’s EVP of consumer marketing, said she expected revenue from subscriptions to increase significantly over the next few years.

She added that one of the advantages of a metered paywall is that casual readers can still access a few articles for free and they might then highlight them on social media, so spreading the publisher’s reach to other digital audiences.

“In a sense, everything is free and nothing is free, depending on your consumption during a defined time period,” she said.

Further details about Condé Nast’s new subscription model came in a memo that CEO Bob Sauerberg sent to staff earlier this week in which he pointed to the success of paywalls at the three magazine brands that currently use them.

“Audiences at The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair have proven that they are willing to pay for the quality content we create, and the performance of those paywalls has exceeded our expectations,” he wrote.

Sauerberg, who is due to step down as CEO once a successor has been found, also made clear that each title in the Condé Nast portfolio will experiment with the development of its own paywall.

“We will let consumer demand and engagement dictate how each brand develops their paid content strategy,” he said.

Sourced from Wall Street Journal, The Wrap; additional content by WARC staff