The Pinterest Effect: Conde Nast Casts ‘Easy Living’ In The Mold Of Hot New Social Network

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Done right, it can also help the imitator tap into the zeitgeist and pick up more followers as a result.

That looks like it might have been some of the logic behind the relaunch of the website of Easy Living, a UK magazine published by Conde Nast, which relaunched this month with a Pinterest-like grid interface on its home page.

To be clear, the site is not about Easy Living turning into a social network itself — there are no followers in different categories, and users cannot “pin” content on the site (not yet, at least) — but the borrowing of the image-based layout, big on images and shorter on text, is unmistakeable.

There are others that have noted how Pinterest has affected the development of web-based content: sites like Quora have topic boards, for example, that also speak to the evolution of content discovery from straight linear timelines to those based on subjects.

This could be one of the first examples of a magazine’s website taking that to heart. It’s a fitting one: Easy Living’s subject matter is squarely in the area of lifestyle, home and fashion, three areas where Pinterest has particularly done well, picking up millions of pinners in the process.

The drive to make magazines more in the mold of hot web properties is something that we may see a lot more of in future, as publishers take tips in their attempt to keep their readers (and advertisers) loyal in the face of a wave of sophisticated (and free) online content. Let by companies like Pinterest.

At Conde Nast, this looks like it is just one part of a big push that Conde Nast is making into digital: today the publisher revealed in London that it is now selling 200,000 digital editions of its UK magazines, and now has 965,000 Facebook fans for its various magazines. Those magazine’s twitter feeds, it said, has nearly has many followers.

It now has a total of 13 iPhone apps, but it looks like tablet content might be a major point of investment in the months ahead:  it said that Vogue UK will start publishing a monthly iPad edition from September; and that 28 percent of its readers now own a tablet, with that number even higher among some of its titles: in the case of Wired UK, 50 percent of its readers own a tablet. With GQ, it’s 42 percent. Smartphones still blow all that out of the water: 90 percent of Conde Nast’s UK readers use smartphones, with more than half of them iPhones.

Still, there is more opportunity to get those mobile types more engaged in Conde Nast content: the company says that only 10 percent of its site traffic is coming from mobile devices.