At the FIPP World Congress in Toronto today, IBT Media's chief content officer and co-founder, Johnathan Davis, explained why the company had acquired the brand and what its plans are for the future.
In some respects, Davis is an unlikely chief content officer. His early career was in Silicon Valley building chips in semiconductor companies. Yet Davis had a passion for digital-based media, which was realised when he met IBT’s co-founder, Etienne Uzac, in 2005.
The pair’s vision to deliver media with a global perspective has yielded several highly influential and profitable properties including, IBT (which boasts 90 million readers each month) Medical Daily, Fashion Times and others.
Yet it was the acquisition of Newsweek, which has arguably been its most interesting, innovative and talked about move.
In 2012 Newsweek was owned by The Washington Post and haemorrhaging a significant amount of money. The Post closed the print edition and instead repositioned Newsweek as a digital-only brand. But then IBT came along.
The acquisition started in a slightly bizarre way – via a real estate deal.
“In 2011, IBT Media was expanding and we were running out of office space,” explains Davis. “We ended up moving into Newsweek’s offices and because of this we were in close contact with their key execs. We joked at the time that now we had their office we might as well get the brand. So when they called us in 2013, we seized the opportunity.”
Having purchased the brand IBT Media then set about relaunching the print edition, but first Davis and his team needed to re-think the magazine. “Newsweek had been a news digest, a review of the week with a deep understanding of what happened,” explained Davis. “Yet that’s available on the internet, so we needed to change it.”
Davis put together a new team and a new content philosophy, but kept the facets of the brand that he felt made it great in first place - “great storytelling, great writing.” What emerged was a shiny new platform for great opinion and analysis and not just a digest.
For Davis the purchase and relaunch of a print Newsweek made total sense. “Newsweek matches the DNA of IBT Media,” he said. “We knew there was tremendous brand equity when we bought it and we wanted to add digital know and experience to the brand.”
“We started to get a lot of correspondence from old subscribers asking for the magazine again. And once we understood there was some demand, we thought let’s focus on re-launching with a superb editorially-driven product aimed at consumers rather than advertisers.”
“We wanted to create a magazine that people would want to buy,” he added. “So we went for amazing covers, high quality paper, perfectly bound, great photography. I believed that if we focused on the consumer advertising would naturally follow.”
Asked whether print was short-term strategy and if Newsweek might become digital only gain at some point in the future Davis responded robustly.
“As long as there is demand, we will continue to print.”
David then went on to look at the potential brand extensions for Newsweek.
“Newsweek still has tremendous brand equity. It is instantly globally recognisable. Newsweek speaks to the world. So we are looking for the right type of licensing partners to extend its reach. We are the stewards of the brand, the voice, tone etc. and we can partner with others on digital best practices, but they will know their market better than we will.”
“With Newsweek we have a world class brand with world class content. We are still finding best practice for storytelling and journalistic rigour. And we see a lot more headroom. We are only getting started. We will have bigger teams on the business side, we are also going to focus on events and licensing and then of course, more partners.”
More like this
FIPP and VDZ’s Digital Innovators’ Summit 2018 takes place Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 in Berlin. If you were unable to make it to Berlin, here are some ways you can follow news from there.18th Mar 2018 FIPP News
FIPP Insider is an opportunity to learn, share intelligence and network with media colleagues. It is an investment of only a few hours out of the office for what could make a world of difference in your business tomorrow.7th Mar 2018 FIPP News
The 6th FIPP Asia international conference and exhibition will take place from 14 to 16 September 2018 in Wuhan, China, co-hosted by FIPP, the China Periodicals Association and the Hubei Administration.25th Feb 2018 FIPP News
When I look at the state of mainstream media, I can’t help but ask the question. Why are so many news publishers pivoting back to paywalls when they didn’t work for most of them before?12th Mar 2018 Opinion
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.12th Mar 2018 Features
“The notion that print is dead is not accurate. I think print isn’t dead, it’s just different. Gone are the times where you can operate with an inflated rate base or 12 times per year as a standard. And I think gone are the days too where you were just concerned with whether there was enough fax paper in the machine where you got all of your signed insertion orders back. Those days are behind us. But print for many companies, Bonnier included, is still profitable. It’s just not at the margins that we once enjoyed. And I feel strongly that brands that sit one or two in a category or vertical can thrive if managed correctly.” - Eric Zinczenko, CEO, Bonnier Corporation12th Mar 2018 Features
It’s been another year of rapid change and innovative publishers continue to assemble a quiver full of new solutions to drive their businesses forward – something that becomes apparent when you page through the new 2018/19 edition of Innovation in Magazine Media 2018-2019 World Report, launched today at Digital Innovators’ Summit (DIS) in Berlin.19th Mar 2018 Features
Publishers need to think again about why people spend time with their content. Is it getting attention because it deserves it, or just a lucky spin of the social media slot machine?12th Mar 2018 Opinion
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
Get global coverage of your launches, company news and innovationsFIND OUT MORE
What’s happening now, what’s coming next