Digital media strategies making money – here’s how Hearst does it

0:10: What is your current digital strategy? 

“Our digital strategy is very simple. It’s really following what Hearst is doing globally – so build large audiences on the free web and then make money from it. In Japan we also have a strong ecommerce operation – the company is doing like 30 per cent of sales total revenue in digital, so the main focus is really the free web, plus ecommerce.”  

0:41: How successful are you at ecommerce?

“Japan is I think the only company in the Hearst network doing ecommerce, properly. So with an ecommerce platform, a team of ecommerce specialists, and the focus I really to merge, and leverage the content of the media, to attract the audience to drive traffic for the ecommerce platforms as well.” 

1:02: How is Japan different from other global markets? 

“The Japanese publishing industry is very conservative. I think we are very late in catching up with the digital trends. So that’s where we have to focus our priorities and put our efforts and investments, because the market is switching very quickly to the mobile. So the shift to the mobile has been quite impactful on our businesses, and so that’s why we have to focus 100 per cent of our time and investments on digital – that’s really a giant priority for us.” 

1:38: How important is social media in Japan? 

“Social media is really the driving force behind the growth in the digital. The priority for the Company is really to understand how the social media structure, and to leverage our brands, and increase the presence of our brands in the social scene. All the main social players – the global players – are also in Japan, it’s quite different from China. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, they are all there – so it’s quite easy to catch up because we have the benchmarks from the UK and the US.”  

“But social, and video actually, I think they are the two fields where we have to invest our time and resources.” 


Hearst’s digital strategy in Japan is very clear and direct. It is to build large, quality audiences online and then monetise those audiences through, amongst other streams, a particularly strong ecommerce model. Social, video, and mobile are clearly also big priorities, but it is applying them in a dedicated, joined-up way that leverages new technologies to help build audiences and draw eyeballs back to the branded websites, rather than just using them to push content out.

Follow Yves Bougon on Twitter.

More like this

Duncan Edwards on Hearst’s digital strategy

Cosmopolitan’s online-only expansion explained

Hearst’s Gary Ellis on positioning brands for international growth

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x