Just like Gawker Media’s eschewing the typical blog format for the redesign of its site network, Maxim hopes that its mostly young, male users will notice that its new look is more like that of a game or video site as opposed to a “web magazine.” The site’s new look, its first redesign in about five years, comes as Maxim is also refining its approach to mobile and tablets as it works to catch the advertising recovery that’s been building this year.
While the consumer magazine ad pages experienced a slight boost in Q3, according to the Publishers Information Bureau’s most recent tally, Maxim continued to struggle in print, as ad pages fell 24 percent. Playboy, which has been attempting to challenge Maxim.com with its own safe-for-work site TheSmokingJacket.com, saw its mag ad pages rise 50 percent.
Ben Madden, Chief Revenue Officer, told paidContent that the ad turnaround is finally starting to benefit Maxim, with particular thanks to its digital efforts. “It was a challenging 3Q but we’ve seen strong returns in 4Q driven by large integrated programs led by digital – Jeep Maximum Warriors and Nissan Game Unleashed,” Madden said. “The momentum is continuing into the 1Q 11 tied to integrated programs across all platforms.”
While the ad programs might be integrated, the goal has been to make each platform a bit more distinct, said Dave Roberson, Maxim’s VP for business development and GM of Digital. “In doing the redesign, we looked to sites that our audience tended to go to, sites that were more video and game-oriented,” he said. “Obviously, we’re still proud of our connection to the print version, and we do promote it on the site. And we made sure that we took a lot of direction from the print editorial team in terms of color palette and fonts for the sake of consistency. But in terms of the presentation, a magazine should look like a magazine and website should look like a website. That’s the same view we took for the mobile and tablet apps as well.”
Jay Woodruff, Maxim’s SVP for digital, added, “I come out of a print background. The real innovation in the digital space has not ben led by print magazine web extensions. Most of those sites have tended toward a more conventional approach to advertising, among other things. We compete for time with consumers and advertisers with entertainment sites. That’s our competition on the web, not other magazines, necessarily.”
Maxim.com’s new look takes a “modular approach,” where all the content is separated into its own cubicles against a background that can be used for ad placements that are both constantly noticeable, yet not intrusive. In addition, the site has also begun using more animated ads, such as the current Nissan ad to support its college football coverage and features.
The site is also taking a more aggressive approach to social media. This past summer, it began partnering with content sharing platform Meebo on its advertising and social net toolbar. “The number of Facebook fans have doubled in 70 days,” Woodruff said. “At the beginning of this year, we had fewer than 30,000 fans. By end of this year, we’re on track to reach 250,000. We’ve also tripled our number of followers on Twitter to over 39,000. We look at both of these areas as custom publishing channels, both distinct and supportive of the brand. That has made the difference.”