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“We are at a very interesting turning point in the history of publishing. Where are we going to go?”

Andy Hart, SVP, Chief Revenue Officer, Hearst Magazines International began his presentation at FIPP London by acknowledging that things have been complex for publishers in recent years, but said that when he thought about the future, he was full of optimism.

“The good news is that great content is the right place to be!” he stressed. “Getting data and numbers is easy, but Google and Facebook can't create content. The value is in high quality content and it will break through.”

“The advantage is that we talk to our audience in a way that only we know, our editors know how to talk, to communicate in that context.”

He then pointed to the way the industry had embraced native advertising, and especially the way that high quality sponsored content was becoming a major revenue source for publishers. 

Andy then shifted his presentation to talk about the ubiquity of mobile.

“This is the year of mobile,” he said. “Actually we have been saying that for years but what makes it different this time is that Facebook makes more than 50% of its revenue via mobile.”

He then described how mobile is continuing to grow with older people embracing smartphones. He also referenced the new world in which apps (especially social networks) take the greatest amount of traffic.

“Facebook knows more about our readers than we do,” he added “and we need to be very comfortable with that.”

Andy then discussed the new media environment, kicking off by saying that it was essential for publishers to go to the party and create content for Facebook, QQ, Snapchat etc. “The key for publishers is to dress correctly! Use responsive design sites, marry content and data and embrace new capabilities.”

He added that if this was difficult for publishers to get their heads around then they needed to bear in mind where we are in the digital media revolution. 

“We haven't really begun with digital thinking. The training wheels aren't even on the cycle yet!”

He then pointed what he sees as the major weakness of Facebook and Google. “They are trying to make human, emotional connections and they are struggling. I think people are eager for human connections and authentic life experiences, some via mobile and some via real life

As publishers we need to use the technology to give that back to both the millennials and post millennials.”

To illustrate this Andy showed a 360 video of the Elle Style Awards which Hearst worked on with Samsung which offered the viewer a number of camera angles.

“It was the first ever behind the scenes footage of behind the scenes at an award, he joked.

He then stressed how essential it is for publishing companies to understand what millennials and post millennials are thinking and the new experiences they are embracing.

He showed a video of a trend called Muk Bang where people live stream videos of themselves eating, adding that in Korean culture (where Muk Bang originates) it is usual to eat together, and this has sparked the new video trend.

Andy then also talked about the importance of the magazine masthead.

“We need to go to the consumer, where they are and adapt to the environment. But the magic part is the magazine masthead, that is the attention grabber. We have experiential and emotional relationships with our readers. And this is so important.” 

Andy wrapped up his presentation by talking about the centrality of quality content and how publishers need to focus on creating partnerships.

On ad blocking Andy said that most Hearst websites have single figure percentage ad blocking, yet he admitted it is still a big issue and that pure display advertising is having less of an effect. 

He also said that native advertising is the way forward, though companies might need to partner to create the best possible content.

Andy then ran through a few examples of what Hearst had created with companies such as the Google Cardboard Virtual Reality tie up the company had just created with Hugo Boss, and the way the company used AR app Blippar to enhance content in an Elle magazine. 

“Ultimately 360 campaigns are in every pitch that we do. We think about how we can combine digital, mobile, print, events, experience and more. We are going to be big on live streaming, 360 video, AR and VR.”

He left the delegates with one key message.

“Partner! We are stronger if we do things together!”

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