‘We no longer consider ourselves to be publishers’ says Future CEO Zillah Byng-Maddick on evolution of industry

The changing digital nature of the publishing industry has led to Future no longer considering itself as a publishing business and instead focusing on a ‘creators of content’ proposition, according to chief executive Zillah Byng-Maddick.

Keynote: Future CEO Zillah Byng-Maddick

Speaking at the Association of Online Publisher’s (AOP) autumn conference in London, Byng-Maddick said placing content at the centre of the business strategy had enabled the company to expand further into experiential events for consumers and widened its thinking around its role for readers of its brands, which include Tech Radar, Photography Week, Total Film and Gizmodo.

As a result, the company can create more content opportunities for advertisers and build more revenue around the value of consumer data.

“At Future, controversially, we no longer consider ourselves to be publishers,” Byng-Maddick said in a keynote speech. “Instead, we are creators of content; we create content that connects, that meets the customer need at that moment in time wherever and whenever they want it.

“At the centre of everything we do is to create content that connects. It spins the wheel that drives our business.

“We have two primary user journeys at Future. One is about reviews; our users come to us to find out about something they want to buy. They also come to us because they’re passionate about something and they want to learn how to do something better.

“We have an obligation to entertain and frankly, as a content provider, if we don’t do that we don’t deserve to be here. We have an obligation to engage. We also have to make sure these two user journeys are easily configured. Either side of that are our customers and our advertising clients, we have to think about how the content we create supports their needs.”

Insight gleaned from user data has led the publisher to introduce a purchase function directly onto its Tech Radar site alongside reviews to prevent customers from leaving it, according to Byng-Maddick.

Meanwhile an understanding of niche audiences has prompted Future to stage a photography event for users to attend to interact with likeminded people and extend the experience beyond a publishing brand.

“The event allowed us to learn who the beginners were, the experts, the professionals,” she said. “That allowed us to create cross-platform marketing and content solutions for our consumers, and also created an opportunity for our advertisers to reach a highly segmented database. For Future, connected devices has created an opportunity to put content that connects at the centre of everything we do.”

Her comments come just days after Future announced the launch of its new content marketing agency, Future Fusion, created to capitalise on its strategy through content marketing solutions for advertisers.

Byng-Maddick added that the company was also working on developing subscription packages for brands in response to behavioural insights from its consumer data.

The focus on subscription and event development echoes a recent major move from the Guardian newspaper to introduce a three-tier membership scheme for readers and the launch of a 30,000 square foot event space at London’s King’s Cross.

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