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Going beyond digital publishing - insights from new FIPP board member Kaisa Ala-Laurila

While digital titles specialising in health and well-being are showing strong growth in developed markets such as Finland, the next step is to lead consumers from inspiration to transaction, and to go global, says new FIPP board member Kaisa Ala-Laurila, CEO of A-lehdet in Finland.

Representing the Finnish Periodical Publishers' Association, FPPA, Kaisa Ala-Laurila, CEO of A-lehdet, the Finnish media house with more than 20 consumer titles, became a FIPP board member late last year. Having worked for many years as president of Sanoma Lifestyle with profit and loss management responsibility of the magazine business in Finland before joining A-lehdet in 2016, Ala-Laurila is perfectly positioned to observe market trends in Europe.

Kaisa Ala-Laurila ()

Kaisa Ala-Laurila / Photo: a-lehdet.fi

She argues that merely expanding on the positive trends they experience in digital publishing is not good enough. “We need to move beyond the fast growth we see in digital publishing in our health, well-being, living and home categories and explore the business opportunities this creates.”

While A-lehdet invested a significant amount of resources into health and lifestyle titles to facilitate growth, “the entire health market is in fact growing and evolving so quickly worldwide that there is a lot of business opportunities, especially in online commerce of products and services.

“We see in every markets that eCom stores are becoming more and more like media, offering relevant content to consumers. Therefore we also see that the most interesting growth opportunity around building mechanisms that will lead consumers from inspiration to transaction, in other words, from content to conversion”.

Equally important, she adds, is not limiting themselves to Finnish markets when it comes to these new digital services. “Every eCom initiative we test should be built with global markets in sight”.

As an example, Ala-Laurila references their home decoration web shop ‘Finnish Design Shop’, of which she is the chairman of the board, which is already attracting half of its revenues from outside Finland. “We need to find niches where we can build unique combinations of content and customer connection”. This means they need to offer more and more consumer insight with analytics and in the process build brand loyalty while offering curated products.

In general, says Ala-Laurila, the Finnish market mirrors the rest of the European publishing market in the sense that print is declining slowly. Yet, this varies from title to title and brand categories. “News weeklies are still strong in print. Digital is growing, especially native and influencer marketing. Our biggest growth in B2B titles come from customer media through content marketing and growth marketing services packaged as a full content marketing service for the customers. We want to deliver content, content strategy, digital channels and inbound to content in those channels.”

Having been nominated to the position of CEO of A-lehdet in August last year, she has set herself three main tasks for her first year in the new role:

- Finding growth in new business area such as eCom in health and living, as well as full service B2B offerings in content marketing;

- Innovating new processes and ways of working in order to secure the profitability of their traditional media business in the coming years; and

- Building the right team of competences for future growth. 

No matter the specific goals of publishers today, FIPP has an important role to play in bringing publishers together to facilitate conversation and learning. “These days we can all find a lot of interesting information from around the world but what makes FIPP unique is that it brings us together so we can sit down, meet and talk. The lines between the magazine industry and other media or even eCom are blurring more and more. Our new focus should be in niche and lifestyle content businesses, not - as one example - daily news media content. Good content should remain at the heart of our business and then expanded to profitable actions build around it.” 

 

A-lehdet ()

 

Tuuli Toivainen, chief business officer at A-lehdet will be at FIPP Insider Helsinki on 15 March to explain how to use smart platforms and innovative storytelling to engage different audience segments with health content. To stay informed about future FIPP Insider events, sign up to FIPP World, our free weekly newsletter.

 

More about Kaisa Ala-Laurila

After working for several years as president of Sanoma Lifestyle with profit and loss responsibility of Sanoma’s magazine business unit, Kaisa Ala-Laurila started her career at A-lehdet in 2016 as senior vice president with profit and loss responsibility of A-lehdet’s business unit covering the majority of the company brands. She was nominated CEO of the company on 7 August 2017 and is board member of the e-com business Finnish Design Shop, health business Oma Terveys and health e-com business Hyvinvoinnin Tavaratalo, all three being a part of the A-lehdet Group.

She holds a Executive MBA from the Helsinki School of Economics, an MA from the University of Tampere in southern Finland and speaks four languages: English, Finnish, Swedish, and German.  

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