BoSacks interviews MPA CEO, Mary Berner

What is the overall goal of this conference?

It goes without saying that our industry has undergone radical changes in the last ten years. But, despite the chatter from the nattering nabobs, we are thoughtfully navigating the transition and there is good reason for optimism. With the monthly Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report, which, as you know, uses data from the most reputable third-party sources to capture consumer demand for magazine media content  (including print) across multiple formats and platforms, we also have proof positive that despite more competition than ever before, our content consumption is actually growing. In fact, it is up nearly 10 per cent across platforms. It’s obviously early days for digital media, but until the dust settles or the secrets to a successful long-term business model appear in a crystal ball, consumer demand is the best proxy – and the only common currency-for determining which companies and brands will succeed. The goal of the conference, armed with that good news and renewed confidence, is to put the navel gazing behind us and look forward at ways we can monetise and continue to build our audience. Fittingly, the theme of the conference is ‘What’s Next’. I like to think that an exclamation point – not a question mark-should follow it.

What do you think is next for our industry?

While it is too early to call, to a large extent, the future of our industry’s will depend on well – our brands. Like Oz, our brands are unique and powerful, and it is up to us to capitalise on their individual strengths and attributes to further engage consumers across platforms and whatever new technologies or delivery systems come our way.

Will you take a stab at a five-year prediction?

As that great media analyst Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” That is particularly true in this industry, where change and transition are the new normal. I will predict, however, that our industry will continue to get better and better at preparing for what’s next.

Do you think it is possible that in five years we will be the media industry? 

Five years from now the magazine media industry will be even bigger.  New technologies will open up more ways to deliver our great content, where when and how consumers choose to consume it.

Is the conference different from years past? If so, how?

For the first time ever, we have combined the American Magazine Media Conference and the National Magazine Awards, into what is essentially a cohesive magazine media industry event. Over two jammed packed days we are combining programming in support of what’s next for the industry with a celebration of what it is that differentiates magazine media from other media: our incredible, trusted and influential content. I challenge anyone to walk away from the two days not feeling smarter, more energised and inspired.

What would make this conference a decided success?

Our goal is simple. We hope our attendees walk away with some tangible ways to move their businesses forward. On a more esoteric level, I’ll consider the conference a success to the extent that we (as in anyone and everyone) embrace the second “M” for media in AMMC. If we keep referring to ourselves (or allow others to refer to us) as the magazine industry, instead of the magazine media industry, we are effectively rubberstamping the misconception that we are a paper-only business. If we don’t acknowledge the breadth of our industry with those five letters m-e-d-i-a, how can we expect it from our advertisers or Wall Street? I have become a broken record on this subject, but language is important and we are doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t brand ourselves – and our reach – accurately.

I agree with the Magazine Media mantel for the industry, as a long-time futurist how could I not. Do you think your event will offer direction for the middle and smaller publishers in our industry? How so?

We have been working hard to make sure that it does and while all of the main stage presentations are being produced to ensure that everyone in the room gets something out of each session, for the first time we are doing break-out sessions that will offer tactics and strategies that will be useful to all publishers.

Article republished courtesy of Bo Sacks.

MPA is a FIPP member company.

Find out more about MPA’s 360 report.

Find out more about MPA’s annual conference, taking place on 2 February in New York, USA.

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