In his new role as group director of Haymarket Consumer Media, Alastair Lewis is ensuring that some of the UK’s most respected specialist magazine media brands are positioned to thrive in an international environment.
Alastair will be part of a panel conversation on brand development at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, 9-11 October, with particular focus on building brands across borders. Click here to book your place – it’s only two weeks away today.
Alastair Lewis was asked in early 2015 to become brand director of Haymarket specialist consumer brands Stuff and What Hi-Fi?, while retaining his position as director responsible for the company’s international licensing. At the time he had a clear vision around identifying new ways to distribute and monetise top-class content – as demonstrated in this article from later that year: Haymarket identifying new ways to distribute top-class content.
Wind the clock forward just over two years and those early foundations are being built on. Lewis is now group director of Haymarket Consumer Media (HCM), with a significantly larger portfolio - and more opportunity for innovation and growth.
HCM is home to the world’s largest football title, FourFourTwo as well as tech lifestyle brand Stuff, and What Hi-Fi?. Also in the group are specialist brands Classic & Sports Car, Practical Caravan, Practical Motorhome, Management Today and CAT (Car and Accessory Trader). It’s a diverse portfolio, but Lewis feels very comfortable with the task. “These brands are joined together by our ability to build high value relationships with enthusiasts through specialist content. They are all well established and highly trusted brands - trusted by both audiences and clients alike.”
Lewis says his strategy for the business is underpinned by three key essentials to grow audiences and increase monetisation sustainably over the long term.
Lewis has an ambitious target to derive 50 per cent of revenue from non-display advertising income streams within the next couple of years.
It’s an undisputed fact that traditional display advertising in both print and digital is under real threat, says Lewis. It won’t disappear, however. Lewis believes that in the long term, at least 20 per cent of revenue will continue to be derived from display.
That said, Lewis is diversifying the model for HCM. Today, non-display advertising already stands at 35 per cent. To be successful, publishers will need to be very clear on how and where they will ultimately be finding non-display revenue.
For Lewis this includes native advertising and creative solutions, which currently make up the majority of HCM non-display revenue. And there is also content syndication and international licensing, which includes franchising their brands internationally.
At the upcoming FIPP World Congress, Lewis will be sharing examples of how specific Haymarket brands have been successful in growing non-display revenue particularly focussing on international licensing and syndication.
He explains more: “FourFourTwo is our biggest international brand and I will tell the story of how we have developed FourFourTwo into by far the largest football magazine brand in the world: thriving in 23 international markets.”
Lewis says he will unpack the three revenue streams they derive from this international presence: licence fees and royalties, syndication fees, and the biggest growing area - native advertising and creative solutions where clients can benefit from exposure in such a large international market.
“Another big area for us is retail and affiliates,” says Lewis. “It creates a significant new revenue stream for us, initially on our Consumer Electronics brands but increasingly across the whole portfolio.”
Apart from newsstand sales and subscription revenue, Lewis sees large growth potential in turning subscriptions into membership packages, an opportunity he already has his teams working through.
Then there is also the growing trend of third party platforms distributing Haymarket content to their own audiences - at a price. Here clients like Readly and aggregators like Apple News come to mind.
When Lewis refers to paid content generally, he does not suggest that websites will suddenly be pay-walled. “Certainly not. For me it is more about focussing on the ways we can offer free-to-air content but also exclusive access to those members or subscribers who are prepared to pay for it - either on our own platforms or those of our partners.”
Publishers, says Lewis, should also become experts at utilising data to enable them to make better decisions. This will assist them to develop new products and services. “The days are over of putting your fingers in the air and saying ‘this seems like a good idea’. We now respond to the analytics and resources available to us. As such we continue to invest in a team which is able to provide us with insight into the content we are producing. We produce the right content targeted at the right audience segment at the right time, which all leads to improved profitability.”
And of course, in a post General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) world, Haymarket “needs to be as effective, efficient, and compliant as we possibly can be”. The new legal framework for data protection in the EU will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018 and the government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
Lewis views the new framework as an opportunity rather than a threat. “We need to really focus on the core loyal quality audiences. Working in specialist media we have the advantage - our audiences are super engaged. They trust us our content and they give us their data. At the same time they give us permission to develop new products and services that are laser targeted for them. That’s a real opportunity.”
Meet with Alastair at the FIPP World Congress – visit fippcongress.com for more or to register.
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