07/27/2010 10:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Is Conde Nast the Most Important Media Company of the 21st Century?

In 1993, I wrote in my book Adbashing: Surviving the Attacks on Advertising, "Media companies, in the future, will be more valued when they are marketing partners involved with the advertiser's objectives and goals." I also asked if "media companies are prepared to innovate –to react to the explosion of technological advances, the expanding universe of media opportunities and the impact of interactivity?" 1993. And here we are nearly two decades later with Condé Nast, the most prestigious, high quality and brand-centric magazine publishing company, finally taking action to reinvent their business and "move beyond the magazine" by re-engineering Condé Nast Media Group into a "seamless, multi-media, multi-platform sales and marketing services facility."

For the long-term health of the total media and advertising business, we hope that Condé Nast succeeds in implementing the new organizational and business models it introduced last week. Condé Nast will need to impose significant organizational restructuring in a company that has been defined by organizational hierarchy and silos. The Newhouse family will need to make a major investment with limited short-term returns, operating in an industry that remains locked into traditional business models, relationships and compensation/pricing structures.

Along with the general media and advertising economy, magazine advertising is on the upswing, with Jack Myers Media Business Report forecasting low single digit growth for both 2010 and 2011. It's clear, however, that print-based media companies need to implement radical changes if they are to capitalize on the transcendent implications of digital media. By focusing its efforts on redefining itself as a marketing services and resources company that has strong and powerful media brands and loyal audiences at its core, Condé Nast is positioning itself at the forefront of a shift that is essential for the long-term health and vitality of the total media industry.

Condé Nast's moves will be closely watched in the next several months and years. The company's and the industry's expectations should be reasonable and conservative. Others have introduced similar initiatives without sufficient return to justify continued investment. It may take five, ten or even twenty years for Condé Nast's initiatives to bear the fruit they should. Assuming the initiatives are well-executed and sustained, Condé Nast has potentially positioned itself as the most advanced, innovative and important media company of the 21st Century.

Jack Myers' extended commentary on Condé Nast and the magazine industry is available to corporate subscribers of Jack Myers Media Business Report at Subscription information is available at

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