Since Lonny was acquired in July 2012 by Livingly (formerly Zimbio), CEO Tony Mamone has been at the helm, driving the magazine to significant milestones such as increased readership and revenue, and better techonology platforms. Editor at Large sat down with Mamone, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and Internet addict, and asked what's changed since the acquistion? Is the flip-book format here to stay? And what are his general thoughts on the design industry? Here's what he had to say.
What was your vision when you acquired Lonny?
As a company, our goal is to publish top-ranked websites in a bunch of women's lifestyle verticals. We set our sights on entering the shelter category in 2012, so were studying competitors, and Lonny kept coming up as an example of great editorial content. We loved Lonny's focus on inspirational yet accessible homes.
The vision behind the acquisition was to combine Lonny's editorial with Livingly's tech platform—and in doing so—get Lonny out to a much bigger and wider audience.
What was the first order of business post-acquisition?
Our first major project was to launch a Lonny tablet app in Apple's Newstand—because getting Lonny onto the iPad was the single biggest request we heard from our readers. We did that last month and it's gone very well so far, so we're now working to get Lonny onto even more tablet devices.
What other important changes have you made?
Beyond the iPad, our next release was a significant upgrade to the Lonny website. We were aiming for faster performance and an intuitive and easy to navigate design. With this release we gave readers access to Lonny's 3-year content archive and made photos and spreads bigger and easier to read.
Is the flip-book magazine format here to stay?
There's no one 'best' format. As a digital publisher, our goal is to publish content in several different formats so that readers can pick and choose what's right for them based on their intent or device or screen resolution. Some folks prefer a magazine-like reader while others want to swipe through the content on a tablet or click through a more traditional web slideshow. We support all of these, for both readers and advertisers.
Internally we think about creating two editorial "types" of content: the Issues, which are laid out very much in traditional magazine format and exist in our magazine-reader and on tablets, and then web-specific content, such as blog posts and slideshows. Issues get published monthly and are often read for entertainment or inspiration. Web content can get published more frequently and serves a more utilitarian function—often times helping people research very specific products, trends, or ideas.
Has the editorial voice/content shifted?
We've always loved Lonny's editorial voice and don't plan to change course there. Our goal is to maintain the voice while we grow the team and improve the tech so that over time we can publish more and more content and reach a wider and wider audience.
How often is Lonny publishing new content?
Right now Lonny publishes issues 10 times per year - that's up about 65% compared to last year. We've still got more recruiting and team building to do before we accelerate frequency more, but it's definitely something that we all think about.
How has the team changed?
We're hiring across several departments including editorial, sales, and marketing. We post job openings on our corporate site -- Livingly.com. We also recently promoted Robert Leleux to the role of Managing Editor. Robert was a long-time contributor and now he oversees and coordinates the publication of all Lonny digital issues.
How has readership grown?
The Lonny audience has been growing rapidly over the last few months. For instance, our monthly issues now get more readers than 2011's bi-monthly issues. Plus, we're seeing strong growth from search and social media, as well as tapping into new audiences on the tablet.
What's Lonny's main revenue source?
Today, Lonny generates revenue through advertising and tablet subscriptions. We see plenty of additional revenue opportunities too—especially with video and commerce—but will first concentrate on growing the team and audience.
Who are some of the biggest advertisers/marketing partners?
We're thrilled to partner with many of the strongest brands in the shelter category. Our advertisers include Room & Board, Wisteria Home, Duralee, Sunbrella, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Kate Spade Home, and many more.
Who do you see as the primary Lonny competitor(s)?
Lonny is different from many shelter competitors in that we focus on younger audiences who are interested in affordable and accessible home decor and design ideas. That said, we follow and read everyone including traditional titles such as Dwell and Elle Decor, and newer sites such as Houzz or Apartment Therapy.
Where do you see the magazine in five to ten years?
Given the pace of innovation, it's hard to predict what format Lonny will take 10 years from now. But our hope is that Lonny will be one of the most popular and respected publishers in the shelter category—entertaining and informing audiences with attainable home ideas and inspiration.
What are your general thoughts on the interior design industry?
Our homes are important and precious spaces—it's where we all spend our free time, socialize with friends, raise families, and relax. My take is that the entire interior design industry is here to help you make your space more livable and more you. So I'm excited about what's happening in the industry right now because I see a lot of new technologies and new innovations that can help people discover their styles or find just the right designers, products, or trends for them. It's a really fun time to be building and working on an up-in-coming title like Lonny.
Tony Mamone, CEO and Co-Founder, Livingly