At AMC, Digital Focus Is Accompanied By Print Growth
Big consumer publishers reflect on the past year, and whatâ€™s next.
NEW YORK - At MPAâ€™s American Magazine Conference today, magazine moguls, techies and media enthusiasts are present to discuss the future of the magazine industry. A year into the digital push, magazine heads find themselves both welcoming and challenging the new order.
After an introduction from Hearst Magazines president of marketing and publishing director/MPA chairman Michael Clinton, MPA president/CEO Nina Link and Time Inc.â€™s EVP/CMO and AMC 2011 chair Stephanie George, Ava Seave of Quantum Media sat down with some of the biggest names in consumer publishing to discuss whatâ€™s next.
Marketing Service Melding
The panel began with a discussion of marketing service integration into publishersâ€™ business models. Tom Harty, president of the National Media Group with Meredith, says, â€śWe go into areas where weâ€™re not experts, and finds businesses that are built on an entrepreneurâ€™s ideas. Theyâ€™re interested in the capital, and interested in our relationship with clients. They see they can grow, and thereâ€™s an agreement they will exit down the road.â€ť
David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, also shares new business awareness as a result of partnerships outside the traditional publishing realm, â€śWhile marketing services may seem to be in conflict with our main business, we want to have exposure to all those ships. We didnâ€™t used to account for every dollar; itâ€™s new for us to be accountable for every dollar like our friends in advertising.â€ť
Harty says his integrated marketing service channel also provides challenges, â€śGeographic divide is a big issue [staffers are located from Texas to New Zealand], as well as culture. We donâ€™t want to ruin the entrepreneurial spirit. We donâ€™t want clients to not know whatâ€™s going on, so thereâ€™s a lot of coordination required.â€ť
Digital Content Equates to Premium Content
Carey says Hearstâ€™s print mag revenue model is split 75/25 between consumer and advertising; the publisherâ€™s tablet goal is 50/50. Of Hearstâ€™s recent announcement of 300,000 paid circ, Carey says, â€śI think the number is going to double in short order. We finally found a way to monetize our content digitally.â€ť
Bob Sauerberg, president of Conde Nast, reiterated the need for paid content on the tablet platform, â€śThe reality is that packaged and beautiful content is going to be paid content. I encourage all of us to think about that. We all know how hard it is to lift prices, but my goal is to find a way to transition from selling access to selling a branded experience.â€ť
Harty says of Meredithâ€™s digital experience, â€śWeâ€™re trying build a long-term business model. We launched three of our brands on the iPad, and launched on the NOOK as a whim. It has our highest results so far.â€ť
New Challenges in a New Era
Social media responsibilities, along with web content and additional content apps, often create an overwhelming workload for editors; this fact does not escape publishersâ€™ attentions. Sauerberg says, â€śEditors are such an asset and drivers of our business; we have to get workflow and technology to help them. We have to focus on the right things at the right times.â€ť
This includes editors maintaining the focus on quality content, regardless of new platforms. Sauerberg says, â€śWe have to encourage content, not fill the gap with tech.â€ť
To that end, Sauerberg is focused on the Conde Nastâ€™s core for 2012, â€śEveryone is looking at digital; Iâ€™m very bullish on our magazine business, as most of our growth will come from that. Social strategy begins with the magazine, and extrapolates through social activity.â€ť
Looking forward, Carey shares the positives of the digital workload, â€śThe paid content model is coming to the iPhone, and the other is hanging in some garage in Palo Alto. We have to look forward to technology as a disruption.â€ť