10 Questions With … Troy Young, President, Hearst Magazines Digital Media

If ever there were a daunting position out there, it just might be the one Troy Young holds. Young is the president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media—and as such, he directs the digital strategy of one of the largest magazine publishing companies in the world. With digital strategy being what many see as the path to the future, one could say the very future of the company rests on his shoulders.

Of course Young isn’t operating alone, but he has a hefty responsibility and extremely significant role in shaping the company’s digital progress. He oversees the digital content, technology, operations, product and business development strategies for the magazine division’s 26 online brands—including Cosmopolitan, Elle, Elle Decor, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and Seventeen, as well as several digital-only sites, such as Delish.com. In addition to being responsible for a bucketful of major brands, all of these brands’ together draw 60 million unique visitors and 640 million page views monthly, which makes Young’s imperative that much more grandiose.

Young’s background is a mixture of roles from various sides of the publishing arena. He was formerly president of digital publishing company Say Media—perhaps best known for its women’s lifestyle brand xoJane, now with 6 million monthly visitors, according to Say Media’s website—where he grew the company to $100 million in revenue, as his bio states.

Before that, he was the “chief experience officer” of the Omnicom digital agency Organic, “advising on strategy and creating award-winning work for clients including American Express, Virgin Mobile, Sirius XM, Chrysler and Bank of America” (also per his bio).Cosmo_Screen Shot

His background seems to have culminated in this relatively new position at Hearst Magazines Digital Media—which he took on about a year ago and where his efforts focus on engaging consumers with content and advertising, and mapping a way forward through the era of the mobile screen. His M.O. is upping the publishing game from months to moments, a phrase he apparently uses quite frequently.

mediaShepherd caught up with Young to talk about the opportunities that lie ahead for Hearst Magazines Digital Media and other media brands, what’s new and exciting at the digital pinnacle of Hearst Tower, what keeps him awake at night, and more.

mediaShepherd: What is Hearst Magazines Digital Media’s fastest-growing revenue segment?

Troy Young: By category, fashion and beauty.

mS: What is its largest revenue segment?

TY: I don’t know off the top of my head. Across the company, it’s probably fashion and beauty as well. Cars is big, too.

By type of advertising, probably big integrated deals and content marketing.

mS: What is the biggest challenge Hearst Magazines Digital Media is facing right now?

TY: I would say the biggest challenge is creating … the right culture to support a vital digital business—and that is one that integrates product thinking, technology, content and advertising into one cohesive group. That’s been our focus to make that happen since I arrived. It is about recruiting wonderful, creative technologists and building on all the success the company had before I arrived. It’s about creating a new generation of content creators that thrive on minute-by-minute publishing—[who] are “of the Internet.”

It’s about building an advertising competency that understands how to live in this new world of native. But to me it’s a cultural thing. It’s all about talent.

mS: From what I understand, Hearst separates out its print properties from its digital properties from a business perspective. Why is this?

TY: You know, I get asked that question a lot. I think that what you want to do is set up your your business and your …

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