WMC 2011: Mag publishers have eye on future

12 Oct,2011

 

By Akash Raha

Future trends, changing media dynamics and measurement issues were discussed during the October 11 session of the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress. After  addresses by Mr Aroon Purie, Chairman FIPP and Chairman and Editor in Chief, India Today and Ms Ambika Soni, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, a series of interesting and intriguing sessions on various issues followed.

How tablets are re-inventing the future of magazine media

The session discussed the various current trends in the tablet publishing. The panelists showed how the audiences are viewing the experience of tablets through their presentations. Ralph Buchi, Head of International Division, Axel Springer, Germany said that the penetration of tablets and smart phones are growing each day. “Tablets are creating new reader base every day. Those who did not read us before are now reading us on tablets. Also, it creates newer audiences in a new age group. People are willing to pay for the content and we are able to garner good advertisements too.” The case study of Axel Springer showed that paid content strategy is paying off as they can boast of significant sales figures of the title with as many as 134,000 digital sales per issue across all our titles.” Mr Buchi pointed out two important reasons for this; increasing willingness to pay for premium content and growing penetration of the devices.

Neil Morgan, Managing Director, McPheters and Company, UK spoke about imonitors, which was launched in June 2010 to allow publishers and agencies to share the cost of thoroughly monitoring developments of apps. Talking about tablets he went on to say, “Penetration of tablets is expected to triple over the next three years. The number of publication-related apps is expanding rapidly too. Apple still dominates the app marketplace, providing yet another reason for the consumer to prefer the iPad over other tablets; however, Android is growing rapidly to increase competition.” Peo Strindlund. Vice President of Sales – Europe and Asia, Magplus Sweden observed, “Tablet ownership among 35-54 year old is changing drastically. Nearly two-thirds of respondents spend approximately two hours with the device regularly. It is essential to understand this changing behaviour to make profits.”

 

Social Media Phenomenon: How magazine brands can benefit

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that social media can make or break a brand. This session portrayed, through case studies, how magazines can take advantage of social media. “We have to understand that times have changed. The consumer wants relevant content and social media is one such medium to provide that. Today, consumers want everything in real time. The question is that how can media take advantage of that? We have only nine seconds to win the attention of the customer, and if we don’t want to lose that opportunity. Content is king, but content in a context is what is important today,” said a speaker from Meridth, USA. He went on to say, “To be successful in social media we have to adopt an editorial mindset and breed hybrid thinkers. Secondly, keep it fresh and find an innovative angle to the story.”

Sergio Zalis, Editor in Chief, Contigo Groupo Abril, Brazil, a weekly magazine, said that his group has three major platforms, magazine, internet and events. He said events is one of the most important vehicles in a country famous for its carnival, and spoke about how they have created a community around it. “We create news during carnivals. We have good sponsors that bring us good revenues. We have almost 200 million people in Brazil out of which 80 million people are connected to the internet, 87 percent are connected to social networks. We are a social brand and wanted to interact with our readers. Contigo’s Facebook page had 105,000 followers in only 15 days. Eighteen percent of the traffic that comes to our site comes from social networks.” Svida Alisjahbana, President director and CEO, Femina Group Indonesia said, “In Indonesia, mobile accounts for 62 percent of digital exposure. One of the reasons for that is Blackberry’s penetration in Asia with Blackberry messenger being a craze… Social media has been a powerful medium for us. Our Chief Editor is also Chief Community Officer where she is managing a lot of different type of communities on the social space. Content, Community and Channel is important to us. Content is king, but conversation is the kingdom.” Feng Xincheng, Executive Editor in Chief, News Weekly, China said, “Being a weekly magazine, earlier we communicated with our readers only once a week. But with social media and internet, we refresh our news each day and can communicate whenever we want.”

 

Magazine media innovation is a 360° environment

Mr Juan Senor, UK Director, Innovations, UK spoke in this session about the imaginative ideas being employed not only with the emerging opportunities that digital technology brings but also in the traditional magazine disciplines. “He said that it is time to start charging because ‘free’ can prove to be expensive is very expensive and there is a cost burden… We are moving towards an app based world, but we are not at the tablet world yet. Mobile is still bigger than websites and tablets and will be for some time to come. Digital today is important, yes, but digital alone is not enough. The print has to co-exist with it. The future of paper is a premium future and it will exist for decades.”

 

Changing Face of Retail

Inventory management, efficient print runs and managing the changing retail environment are the key to enhancing profitability. Frederic Chevalier, EVP, Strategy Innovation and Sustainable Development, Lagardere Services, France spoke in length about his company and other success models. Talking about the issues concerning the industry he said, “Declining retail sale or single copy sale poses a major threat to the entire industry, to the publisher, distributor and retailers. Single copy sales are of outmost importance and newsstands are the best places where you can show and showcase your magazine to your audience. The consumer can see, read and browse through your magazine.” He added, “We must collectively adapt our business to the changing world. We must try and make the industry more efficient to reap profits. Also, adopt retail businesses best practices and incorporate newer technologies to make our business profitable.”

 

Audience metrics: How to measure multi-platform brand reach

Advertisers are demanding ever more sophisticated targeting and measurement analytics, particularly of brands operating on several platforms. The point of debate was, what are the trends in audience measurement and what are the criteria advertisers value the most. Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, Vivaki Media Exchange and ZenithOptimedia, India said, “Brand experience correlates with market share. People positively disposed towards the brand looked at the ads more closely. Without experience, we cannot survive. The brand experience of magazines and the internet is significantly higher than ad share. There has been a lot of action in the automobile sector, for instance, where not only the trade magazines but even general magazines have been preferred for advertising.”

 

Emerging markets

This session discussed through case studies some of the areas where rampant growth can be witnessed. Didier Guerin, CEO, Media Convergence Australia moderated the session and introduced the panelists. Colin Crowell, General Manager, Ringer Vietnam spoke about how the growth opportunity in Vietnam, owing to strong internet penetration, is immense. “We focused on our print product first and thereafter, grew at a steady pace as the print ad revenues kept flowing. The only problem that we faced at the beginning was perhaps to   find the right partner.” Michael von Schlippe, President, Partners Media Group, Kazakhstan spoke about his success story of his magazine in the largest landlocked country lying between Russia and China, and invited the audience to invest in 20 percent (according to government norms of foreign media ownership) of his company. Likewise Chang Eui Lee, CEO, Chosun Magazine, South Korea too narrated his success story and the rapid growth the magazine saw. He stressed on the importance of being ahead of the times and gave the audience and insight to his five-year plan (2012-2016) of increasing the magazine market which includes steps such as improving distribution system, strengthen global competitiveness, support digitization and improve quality of magazine content.

Paid content and paywalls

High quality content comes at a price, yet many publishers hesitate to introduce charges on their websites. Mahesh Murthy, Founder and CEO, Pinstorm India was the moderator of this session and gave his invaluable insights on the topic of paywalls. According to Alessandro Cederle, President ANES Italy, CEO Ediemme Gruppo Editoriale, Italy, “Making money with content is an increasingly big challenge for publishers nowadays and hence it is important to define or rather redefine the issue. It’s not about making money but about understanding how content can create value; and if content creates value, then you can automatically make money out of it.” James Tye, CEO, Dennis Publishing, UK said, “It is not possible to put all brands, and we have 30-40 brands, into an iPad-specific app. So when you choose them, choose the one with the most glam potential, choose the one with the highest brand recognition, the most advertising potential, and critically the most assets; so you must have video assets, extra pictures, great content.” He went on to say “All we do as a company is produce good content. I give it to people in the way they want to consume it. So if they want to read it in print, we’ll be there. If they want to read it on the iPad, we’ll be there.”

 

The future of international magazine brands in the 360° media world.

Publishers need to ensure that the consumer experience is a consistent brand wherever they might be in the world, in whichever language they might consume the magazine in and on whatever device they might consume it on. The issue in this session was how publishers are handling the brand across multiple platforms. The session was moderated by Barry Mcllheney, CEO, PPA, UK. Torsten Klein, President, Gruner+Jahr, Germany noted, “We had given content for free on the worldwide web, but we can’t afford to make the same mistake again with tablets. We must put a premium on content from the very beginning and not give it for free.” Roberto Briglia, Chief Content Manager and General Manager of International Activities, Mondadori, Italy said, “The big question still remains how to monetize digital. We have to change the way we sell advertisement and reconceive the way in which we produce content. We must use digital to successfully create new business opportunities. When asked by Mr Mcllheney, whether magazine is at the absolute heart of it, or is it merely one of the platforms, Duncan Edwards, President and CEO, Hearst International, USA said, “Magazines are at the absolute heart of it all and the rest of the mediums are build around it. Magazines as a product will be efficacious for several decades and that is where we will make most of our revenues from. The other mediums will only be alternate sources of revenue.”

Magazine: The medium of the future

Despite the drive towards digital media, researches has repeatedly shown that magazine continue to be a relevant and trusted medium and hence, a medium of the future. Susan Kaufman, Editor, People StyleWatch, USA presented a case study citing the success story of StyleWatch. She said, “The success of any brand (magazine) lies in how well does it emotionally relate to its readers… The main reasons for the success of StyleWatch are that we respect and connect with our readers – that’s probably how we managed to sail through the recession as authenticity is one key factor. We are not a regular celeb gossip magazine; our magazine uses celebrities as aspirations and inspirations. Our celebs help validate the trends we cite. We know how to delight and surprise, our magazine is like a present to the reader.”

Nicholas Coleridge, Managing Director, Conde Nast, UK said, “The first magazine congress I ever attended was 21 years ago, and it had the same theme. This was long before digital was invented. The keynote at that congress was a ‘guru’ from Henley Centre who gave the most apocalyptic speech I had ever heard. Magazines, he said, have no future. But thankfully I got into the business and figured out the optimism in reality.” He pointed out that average issue publication from 1971 to 2011 has been on a constant rise and the statement that magazines have no future is one of the great untruths of our century. He went on to say, “We are bringing out digital versions, apps etc, but we haven’t forgotten that print is foremost. The sheer beauty of the printed page can never be replicated in any other media. Seventy percent people prefer print to digital and this in the age group of 21 to 27 yrs; 81 percent think images look best in print.” Thereafter, MS Min Liao, Editorial Director, Trends Group, China cited the case study of Trends to drive her point that the future of magazine is bright. “Our strategy is brand focus and audience focus. You need to provide something unique to the consumers, as they have greater expectations now.”

 

Also Read: http://www.mxmindia.com/2011/10/soni-sees-bright-future-for-mags/


Photograph: Video grab picture of I&B MInister Ambika Soni with Aroon Purie (to her left) and Tarun Rai.

 

 

 

 

 

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