LESS SKIN IN THE GAME

Playboy is betting that listicles will do better than porn on Facebook

August 22, 2014
August 22, 2014

“I only read Playboy for the articles,” men used to say, before the internet existed. Now, Playboy hopes to be read for its listicles.

Yesterday, the famous men’s magazine quietly switched on a redesign of Playboy.com, with changes intended to optimize the site’s content for sharing on social media, Facebook in particular. That means fewer naked or near-naked women, more articles fashioned out of Buzzfeed-style lists, and frequent slideshows and posts about lifestyle and entertainment. “We developed everything on the site for social,” Playboy’s chief product officer, Phillip Morelock, told Ad Age. “We’re focused on Facebook now because that’s where our largest audience is.”

Playboy’s content may not seem like a natural for Facebook, given how many Facebook users include their parents or coworkers in their network of “friends.” But apparently there already are 60 million pieces of the company’s content making it into users’ news feeds each month, according to Ad Age. With the new strategy, the company hopes to reach even more readers, and attract more advertisers.

Playboy actually has a rich tradition of featuring high quality, non-pornographic literary content, with the likes of Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Hunter S. Thompson having graced its pages with articles—although arguably, posts that seem ready-made for social media (like this slideshow) might not have the same impact.

In 2011, after a 40-year run on the stock market, Playboy Enterprises was taken private in a leveraged buyout. The investors were led by Hugh Hefner, who founded the magazine 61 years ago. Since then, as  the Wall Street Journal (paywall) recounted last year, the company has basically morphed into a licensing company, with its famous bunny ears appearing on everything from spirits to nightclubs to clothing. Publishing has become a sideshow. Which means  a title once known as a media innovator has now become a follower.

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