It’s been a busy week by the time FIPP catches up with Andrew Horton at Time Inc. UK in London. The ink is not yet dry on a new ecommerce partnership signed between the UK’s leading modern home magazine Livingetc and online retailer Made.com, and he’s already gearing up to launch the group’s new innovative content syndication website.
Before we delve into the details, we want to understand how Horton, his team and commercial partners, manage to stay ahead of trends and keep track of market demands across a flood of brands. This challenge is exacerbated by the diversity of content from specialist titles such as Horse & Hound, Decanter and NME to InStyle and Marie Claire.
“We invest a lot of energy in Time Inc.’s Marketing, Advertising and Publishing Knowledge Forum where key trends and data across different content sectors and key initiatives are shared. Understanding changes across our markets is really important given the speed of change within businesses nowadays. It’s also important to talk to people outside of the media sphere to gain insight into consumer trends.”
The world of venture capital is a good example. “We can learn a lot from looking at where people invest in possible future trends and tendencies. We have to follow – or rather anticipate – what consumers are interested in.”
This is one reason why Time Inc. is exploring, and experimenting with different means of providing content to consumers. Content streaming apps where consumers can control or curate aggregated content is high on the list of priorities. “This could include models for curated versions of content from our different brands, or even partnering with other brands.”
As for future content platforms Horton sees wearables as “a natural extension of how technology links to people’s lives”. Yet, despite innovation in technology, he feels brands should never waiver from the key focus areas: “What’s our value proposition; and why should people care?”
One of Horton’s goals is to deliver new deals which builds on existing brands. To achieve this diversified growth initiatives are an important focus for Time Inc.’s future vision.
“We’ve looked at strategy and prioritised the businesses we wanted to launch. Apart from existing brand builders like events and awards, special campaigns are becoming increasingly important,” he explains. One of these is the ecommerce partnership mentioned earlier between Livingetc and Made.com. Time Inc. UK will be working with the Made.com design team to create new interiors and furniture. “We bring consumer insight, knowledge of interior trends and marketing to our partners to create new products. This has gone from initial meetings to launch in only six months with the goal to launch eight capsule ranges within the next two years.”
While this partnership creates an opportunity to feature innovative products across Time Inc.’s media platforms, they will also earn a percentage of sales through royalties.
In similar ways brand extension is achieved with a variety of initiatives and partnerships. Horton mentions the online equestrial event entering service equoevents.co.uk, which is managed in collaboration with Horse & Hound magazine, theroomedit, a site which enables people to explore interiors styles and shop for the products seamlessly, and the acquisition of UK Cycling Events.
Soon to be launched is a content syndication website which will enable automated purchase of Time Inc’s content. “This has been challenging but that is what our clients want. The site is a showcase for our stunning content, enables purchase of content packages and use of our brands for endorsements. It will start off as a business-to-business service but it does have the functionality for consumers to purchase content as well.”
No matter how important, warns Horton, diversified ventures alone will not guarantee brand extension. The way content is presented is equally important. That is why knowledge and energy is invested in the delivery of content to various platforms. “Audiences use devices differently for different purposes. Wallpaper* is a good example of adaptation across devices. In some sectors we need to be digital first. In the equestrian market, for example, news goes online first. It reflects what the consumer needs in that market.”
As for charging for online content, experiments are ongoing in both the UK and US markets. In the US Entertainment Weekly recently introduced a metered paywall that limits the amount of articles available to non-registered users or non-subscribers. The strategy gives users options while providing new data to the company for use in other initiatives.
Playing the long game
Horton feels the success they have achieved with commercial partnerships and licensed editions abroad – he oversees 20 licensed editions and many more syndicated brands – is because Time Inc. is strongly focused on long-term profitability and long-standing relationships.
They also have strategic information to guide licensed partners. Once again data collection is critical. “Our brands interact with audiences worldwide over a quarter of a billion times a year and that gives us tremendous consumer insight across the different markets that we work in.”
This information is shared with partners and Time Inc. UK provides a consultancy service to spread knowledge and assist our partners.”
About Andrew Horton
Following an early career in advertising sales with the Observer, Guardian and BBC, Horton joined Time Inc. in 1995 filling various roles including commercial director of the TV and entertainment division and digital business development. He moved into his current role in 2002.
He is also a board director of NLA Media Access representing the magazine industry and a board director of the Publishers Licensing Society, managing collective licensing for books, journals and magazines.
Meet Andrew at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto this October.
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