Jowdy eyes international expansion
New VP-publisher of 'WWD' looks to China, beyond
By James Podolny
Condé Nast's Fairchild Fashion Media
Paul Jowdy, previously publisher of Bon Appétit, Details and Every Day With Rachel Ray magazines, took over Women's Wear Daily, his first b-to-b publication, in November with plans to strengthen its global presence and improve its ability to serve international audiences.
As part of that effort, WWD debuted an iPad application in January—featuring an exact replica of the print edition, slide shows with bonus images not available in the print edition and a live news feed—to serve its readership of globetrotting fashion executives, investment bankers and venture capitalists. The app has since garnered more than 43,000 downloads. “WWD speaks to C-suite executives,” Jowdy said. “They are always traveling, and to get your newspaper every day is not that easy. So now with a touch of the button, no matter where they are in the world, they can have WWD.” He said the app also helps the newspaper reach international readers, especially those in Asia and Europe, who live outside of its distribution area.
According to Jowdy, the company purposely made the app an exact replica of the newspaper. “There's been a lot of testing done on this, and sometimes if an app is overly complicated, people do not like it,” he said.
The app, which currently gives advertisers another platform to reach readers at no additional cost, is included with individual and digital subscriptions. According to Jowdy, it could eventually replace the print edition for some readers. “I think in the short term you still have the newspaper, but in the long term, I think you'll see that pendulum swing,” he said. “When you go to renew your subscription, then you will actually pay for that service. And I think that'll be the measuring stick to see how many people prefer the app to the newspaper.”
Jowdy also sees significant growth opportunities overseas and will look to expand WWD's international circulation and distribution. The publication is already exploring opportunities in China, poised to become the largest luxury goods market in the world this year. “China's becoming such an important part [of our strategy]. I mean how many consumers are there, a billion? The potential is extraordinary,” Jowdy said. He added that the newspaper is following designers who have already started flocking to China. “As far as expansion goes, for many of these fashion brands, China is the first place they are looking.”
In addition, Chinese media mogul Hung Huang, publisher and editor of the popular Chinese fashion magazine iLook and sometimes called “the Oprah of China,” began writing a weekly column about the Chinese fashion industry (ChinaFile) in January. “That's how the editors are keeping the newspaper relevant [in China],” Jowdy said.
According to Jowdy, Hung's column has also generated significant advertiser interest, and he plans to create an adjacent space for advertisers next to her column on WWD's website. Jowdy said the magazine will create PDF files of the Web pages featuring her columns and give them to Hung to post on her Sina Weibo (a Chinese social networking site similar to Twitter) account, giving advertisers access to her more than 4 million followers.
Jowdy also said that he and the WWD staff are discussing the possibilities of opening an office in China and publishing a Chinese-language edition of the newspaper.