COVERED UP

Playboy’s web traffic went through the roof when it dropped the nudity

By Frida Garza

Playboy has a new look: After the adult magazine made headlines in October last year for its decision to nix full-frontal nudity, its first print issue to run without (completely) naked women hits stands next week.

To get rid of the very thing that made the magazine popular feels like a gamble—but on the other hand, Playboy’s website relaunched as safe-for-work over a year ago, in August 2014. It has been reaping the benefits ever since.

After the site’s relaunch, traffic skyrocketed—chief content officer Cory Jones told Quartz that Playboy.com jumped from 4 million unique monthly visitors to 20 million by December 2014. Another surprising development: the median age of the visitors fell a staggering 17 years, from 47 to 30.

These changes suggest how the 62-year-old institution can adapt and make itself more appealing to younger audiences.

PRNewsFoto/Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Even the print magazine feels more up-to-date. The front cover of the magazine’s upcoming issue, the first to eschew full-frontal nudity, looks like a selfie sent over Snapchat. The model has one arm extended in front of her, as if she were taking the photo with her camera. There’s even a grey bar of text over the photo, which anyone who uses the auto-delete messaging app will recognize as a Snapchat feature. The Playboy logo at the top is barely noticeable.

“It’s a way to reintroduce Playboy to a whole new generation,” Jones told Quartz. “We came upon the Snapchat idea [for the front cover] and it was so perfect because it’s an invitation, it’s ‘Hey, Playboy is here,'” said Jones.

Playboy, along with other adult magazines, used to be sold at stands in bookstores and airports behind a cardboard divider. Now, the magazine will be sold front and center along with other general interest publications.

While Playboy.com’s web traffic has been booming, its print circulation has struggled over the past few decades. The magazine’s total circulation for January/February of this year was just over 800,000, according to figures the company presented to Quartz.