NEW YORK—Relevancy and innovation will help brands, and especially magazine publishers, not only stay afloat in the age of digital transformation, but also enable them to thrive. That was the message delivered by keynote speaker and Meredith Corporation’s National Media Group president Tom Harty during the final day of the MediaNext Show, FOLIO:’s annual conference.
“Change plus innovation equals sustained growth,” said Harty, who took the stage this morning at the Marriot Marquis in New York City. “Change plus innovation has allowed us to go from a traditional publishing company to a national marketing and communications company across a variety of platforms. At Meredith, that means building and maintaining the ability to connect. We reach 100 million U.S. women, about half of this is through a digital channel.”
Speaking to about 200 media professionals from a variety of industries, Harty laid out four principals for thriving in the age of digital transformation:
1. Focus on your core business.
2. Leverage technology, but not at the expense of your core business.
3. Stay relevant. Keep innovating.
4. Be accountable. Capitalize on the power of magazines.
“[Innovation] means remembering who you are not,” he said. “We are not a technology products company, we are a content company and a sales and marketing organization.”
Harty added that by expanding the ways a brand can connect with audiences, publishers can extend revenue opportunities. By embracing technology and a variety of platforms, a magazine then helps to create relevancy among readers, which will help them to thrive.
One way Meredith is doing this is both through organic growth and acquisition activity. Harty said Meredith felt threatened for a period of time by Allrecipes.com, but was able to stay relevant and continue to thrive by acquiring the online giant.
“We acquired Allrecipes.com, the leading website for food around the world, and it doubled our digital footprint,” he said. “Thinking back to what Meredith is made of, we didn’t have a lot of food brands, but it was the number one content topic.”
In addition to expanding their online presence, Harty says that the brand addition presented the company with a variety of new revenue opportunities because of the Allrecipes.com audience: 50 percent of the traffic to the site is mobile, and 50 percent of that traffic is happening in-store—presenting unique opportunities for advertisers to target buying-empowered consumers.
“Being a public company means our shareholders demand growth—technology enables us to reach audiences across 1 billion touch points,” he said. “It’s a slow progression, but we are believers.”