Conference Publishing Media

How publishers are changing business models to connect with their audiences


By Nick Creed, Co-Founder & Digital Director

October 12, 2017 | 4 min read

Magazine publishers are becoming increasingly innovative in creating new business models to help retain their audience position, with some abandoning the printed magazine altogether.

FIPP World Congress 2017

FIPP World Congress 2017

The world’s leading media publishers came together for the FIPP World Congress on 9-11 October to explore the latest trends and solutions in the industry.

With the explosion of online content and consumers’ attraction to free social platforms, traditional publishers have had to work hard to retain the attention of their audiences.

As part of its evolving strategy, Abril Group in Brazil is using its existing magazines and media platforms as a marketplace and developing additional revenue streams.

As a leading South American consumer publisher, it has used its subscription knowledge to introduce 25 membership clubs which operate across a range of niches such as beer, wine and food. These clubs are packaged alongside its existing media products, enabling it to open up additional opportunities for its readers.

Walter Longo, Abril president explained the publisher was adding two or three clubs every month. “We need to rethink strategies, vision and the future,” he argued. “We are idealistic about print media. Companies don't die for doing the wrong things, they die for doing the right things for too long. We need to use our media not only as an end, but also as a means."

E-commerce has also played a part in how Dennis Publishing UK is evolving its traditional consumer publishing business. Having developed car buying audiences with its consumer titles AutoExpress, Car Buyer and Evo, it wanted to capitalise on its five million unique users coming to its sites for reviews, buying advice and information on how to purchase a car.

Pete Wooton, managing director of Dennis Digital UK, gained first-hand experience of purchasing a car through after a previous bad experience at a dealership, and, just like Victor Kiam, he liked the company so much he decided to buy it. Research showing that 5 million millennials will be buying cars online in future years backed up the rationale.

After a complete site rebuild where the focus was on creating a scalable, mobile responsive platform which allowed easy testing, is now listing 50,000 cars and selling and delivering around 300 cars each month. Much of the revenue is generated from add-on products such as finance.

Since Dennis acquired the site three years ago it has grown from a £400,000 turnover to a projected £30m at current year end.

Ascential is another business that has pivoted away from traditional publishing into focussing on non-magazine areas. Formerly known as EMAP and for a short time the Top Right Group, Ascential has undergone huge change under the leadership of chief executive officer Duncan Painter.

The UK-based company's advertising led B2B brands such as Architects’ Journal, Nursing Times, Local Government Chronicle, Drapers and Middle East Economic Digest sit alongside its profitable events stable including Cannes Lions, International Spring Fair and its recently acquired Money 20/20.

Earlier this year, Ascential acquired MediaLink and sold 11 of its UK-based B2B magazine 'heritage brands', leaving it with only one magazine product of its 19 brands.

During a panel at the FIPP conference, Natasha Christie Miller, Ascential Divisional chief executive officer who oversees a number of its flagship data products including Groundsure and Glenigan, explained that it now has only one magazine product in its mix and is now focused on providing information to business that helps them solve problems. "The future is to provide business solutions, about solving and providing answers. Moving away from nice to have to can’t live without. We have moved much further along the decision making chain."

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