It is a story that the company’s chief operating officer, Michael Finnegan, shared with the delegates at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto.
Finnegan kicked off his presentation by explaining that there were many things he could focus on to tell the story of Atlantic Media’s evolution - from search and social through to mobile and native advertising.
Yet instead he stressed that it is the “culture and operational structure that enables us to adapt to new challenges and keep up with the pace of modern media.”
Over the decade the company doubled its revenues and in the last two years achieved 50 per cent revenue growth. Finnegan confirmed that the company’s legacy brands had “bottomed out” and that had enabled Atlantic Media’s new products to drive new growth.
Back in 2005 Atlantic Media was three business units and six brands, Now it is four business units, 22 brands, and a digital audience of 50 million. Even print circulation has grown by 20 per cent bolstered by success of the company’s digital products.
“In 2005 almost all our revenue was print ad and circulation,” said Finnegan. “Then we made the decision to rush through new products, rather than save declining print products. We would let them decline gracefully and in a way that would protect the brand, but we made a heady push towards digital from 2007. We doubled down on events and introduced membership models to replace circulation.”
The importance of culture
Finnegan believes that it was the company’s culture that enabled them to avoid some of the pitfalls that legacy media companies had to deal with, and he outlined four core pillars of the culture - premium content, sales culture, talent and decentralisation.
“Premium content is at the heart of our DNA,” declared Finnegan. “It provides great user engagement, premium content for our ad partners and enables us to charge premium rates.”
“It also helps us differentiate ourselves from all the other digital startups. Great storytelling is a barrier to entry, it is really tough to write a story that is 18,000 words that is compelling and intelligent.”
Finnegan added that “another benefit is its ability to bolster our audience growth. He said that 30 per cent of our traffic comes from content not produced in that month. In other words long tail content based on ideas, which constantly provides returns over time.”
Finnegan then moved on to describing Atlantic Media's sales culture - suggesting that “premium content is great but if you can't monetise it you haven't got a sustainable business.”
The company tripled its sales team from 2010 to 2015 - and now boasts a “fully modern digital content and native advertising sales team.” He added that “we celebrate our sales team as much as our editorial team.”
Finnegan then explained that Atlantic Media have a “relentless pursuit of talent.” He then described the Atlantic Media Fellowship program - a one year program for people straight out of school. Apparently 17 per cent of the company’s staff are current or former fellows.
Finally Finnegan discussed the company’s mantra of “innovation through decentralisation. We had a business model with a corporate core and strategy and innovation came from a few people. As the pace changed we shrunk the role of corporate and pushed strategy, innovation and execution to the business units. Everyone is accountable for growth and keeping tabs on what else is going on in the industry.”
Follow the user
Finnegan then discussed four other key elements of Atlantic Media’s strategy - follow the user, experimentation, good is good and data.
“Follow the user is a big one for us,” said Finnegan. “We want to follow the user where they go, to new devices, on portals, on platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News and Google AMP. We want to be everywhere that the audience is. We are going to pursue as many of those ways to reach consumers as possible.”
Finnegan then outlined a few of the company's experiments including the Atlas search engine for charts, Glass, a project about the future of TV, and This - a social media platform.
He then expanded on the company’s “good is good” mantra, something he describes as really tough for a legacy publisher to get their head around. “In the digital economy you want speed to be the currency of innovation not perfection. You iterate to get to perfection, but you need to make sure that perfection is not the enemy of good.”
Finally, Finnegan gave Atlantic Media’s views on data and metrics. “In the modern world you can collect data on everything and let the data speak and inform your decision making.”
“We have constantly been able to improve our products and grow new products,’ Finnegan concluded. ‘We think it will enable us to continue our growth trend over the next ten years.”
More like this
Kevin Lawrence, leadership coach and acclaimed author, has joined the speaker line-up for the FIPP World Media Congress 2019.30th May 2019 FIPP News
The FIPP World Media Congress 2019 will bring a host of high-profile speakers together in Las Vegas later this year to discuss the issues facing magazine media. But, as FIPP CEO James Hewes and event Chair Linda Thomas Brooks explain, it aims to offer a whole lot more too…28th May 2019 FIPP News
Hearst, Burda, Red Bull, Playboy and Trusted Media Brands are the latest speakers to be announced alongside the draft agenda for the FIPP World Media Congress 2019.23rd May 2019 FIPP News
There’s no substitute for live event attendance. Away from your day-to-day environment and in the company of peers and experts, the opportunity to reflect, learn and build relationships is unmatched. Of course, these opportunities come with a cost. With budgets under an ever-increasing level of scrutiny, getting the most from your expense spend is a no-brainer. If you’re planning to join us in Las Vegas this year, here are some budget saving tips that will help keep costs under control.13th May 2019 FIPP News
For publishers, AI-driven tools have largely been used for editorial purposes, to write articles on themes like sports scores, weather forecasts and real estate sales. For example, Reuters uses an AI-based tool called NewsTracer to sift through millions of tweets in real time, to flag potential news stories, for its journalists. UK-based Reach does something similar, using an AI-based tool called Krzana to monitor 60,000 online sources to alert journalists to breaking news, and Forbes has tested an AI-based tool to draft stories for contributors. Publishers have also leveraged artificial intelligence to power content recommendations, to edit homepages, and for translation.10th Jun 2019 Features
For over 50 years, Rolling Stone has been iconic in its coverage of music and popular culture, political journalism and commentary. From the Beatles' Magical Mystery tour to Shawn Mendes, Rolling Stone has covered the greatest rockstars, the hottest celebrities, the biggest political stories. Called a 'counterculture bible' by The New York Times, the magazine has launched careers, defined what was cool, inspired a rock song, been embroiled in controversy, and over the last two years, found a new home with Penske Media Corporation.17th Jun 2019 Features
Despite popular belief, subscriptions and paywalls will not be the silver bullet most digital publishers have been waiting for. Instead, publishers should be exploring innovation in digital advertising formats, said Jessica Rovello, co-founder and CEO, Arkadium, USA, at this year's Digital Innovators' Summit in Berlin. She proposed four new formats as a good place to start.17th Jun 2019 Features
Martha Stone Williams, CEO of World Newsmedia Network, discusses how the media industry must adapt to embrace innovation, how data and measurement must be the cornerstone of strategy and direction, and successful media firms implement a culture of experimentation.10th Jun 2019 Features
Condé Nast International today announced the launch of Vogue Business Talent, a curated recruitment platform for professionals seeking opportunities with the world’s leading fashion brands. The new platform, launching with selected opportunities in London, New York, Paris, Milan and Hong Kong forms part of Vogue Business, the online B2B publication launched in January 2019.12th Jun 2019 Industry News
Visit our Youtube channelFIND OUT MORE
FIPP newsletters allow you to keep up with industry trends, research, training and events across the worldFIND OUT MORE
What’s happening now, what’s coming next