Now in its eighth edition, the Innovation in Magazine Media Report is the brainchild of John Wilpers and Juan Señor of the Innovation Media Consulting Group. Covering everything across the media owner landscape, from tech trends to facilitating human change, the book provides insights and best practice examples from around the global media world to help publishers further develop their businesses.
We began by asking John to introduce us to the wider Innovation Media Consulting Group:
“The big differentiator for our company is that we are all journalists,” said Wilpers. “We have all worked in the business, either on the sales side or the business side. But then we involve the staff in the process. Because if you don’t involve the staff in the process, they will undercut you at every turn. But if they feel like they are part of the process, they go from being victims of change, to being change leaders, because you have given them control of the process. And so they actually end up pushing you harder for change than if you were pushing down from the top.”
Looking specifically at the Innovation in Magazine Media Report, Wilpers explains how it takes a category by category approach to change.
“So this book we’ve done since 2010. This is the eighth edition, and this version I think is the strongest of all, because we are in a position at this point in time where we really do know the kinds of things that work and the kinds of things that don’t. And this in a way is a guide of how to innovate. It goes by category, so we look at things like: messaging apps and chatbots, which a lot of people don’t know anything about. We look at mobile, and how mobile should really be precision content, that is targeted to a specific time and a specific platform, rather than print to desktop to mobile.”
“Then we look at monetisation. I think we have 14 different types of monetisation strategies that you can look at. We have print innovations; we have progressive versus native apps. All the money that people have spent on native apps – US$50,000–$100,000 per app – is a waste of money, because it’s not shareable, it’s not discoverable, and with a progressive web app you can build it on the web for far less cost, all the content that you put into it is discoverable and shareable, and it can be done in a heartbeat.”
Of course it’s not just business strategies, but the people behind them that can often inspire real change. Through Innovation Media Consulting, Wilpers has spent many years helping business owners and their staff come to terms with industry change, and here he explains how evolution can takes place on the human side of the company.
“We also look at reinventing editorial teams. One of the big problems we’ve discovered, with all of the things that work in media companies, is that 77% of all reorganisation efforts fail. So of all these media companies that have tried to make it work, only a quarter succeed. And the reason they don’t, is because they don’t pay attention to how to reorganise your editorial or your sales team. They allow existing job descriptions, existing workflows, all that are set up around the print operation to continue. What we say is you’ve got to blow it up. You’ve just got to start from scratch and figure out who does what, when, to make the digital process and the print process work.”
With 10 different kinds of media tech analysed in the Innovation Media Report, it’s important to ask the right questions when it comes to deciding on the right type of tech to invest in for your business.
“There is so much media tech out there, how do people know what to do? So we look at about 10 different kinds of media tech and talk about which types of media tech would work for which types of customer, at what time of day, on what type of platform, so that you’re not chasing the next shiny thing. You’re going after specific tech that you know will work for you. Is a chatbot right for you? Maybe/maybe not. And the way to find out is to start by asking the questions ok what’s my mission, who’s my audience, and where do they get their information? And if a chatbot is appropriate, great. If not, don’t waste your time and money.”
“So the book is loaded with very very useful, practical, advice in areas that you may know about, and even in some areas that you probably don’t know about.”
Finally, we asked John if he could give us his insights into what he sees as the standout trend for the media industry at large in 2017.
“I think the trend that we are seeing and we hope to see more of is real revenue, which goes back to the basics of creating great content. Because if you’re creating great content that users can’t get anywhere else about the passion that they have, whether it’s news, or knitting or sport, whatever it is. If you’re creating content that they can’t get anywhere else they have shown that they’re willing to pay for it. We don’t have to have everything to be free anymore. And it shouldn’t be, free is not a sustainable business model!
“So what we’re seeing is the trend towards publishers deciding that yes, our content is valuable and we can have people pay for it. But what that means is that they have to invest in the creation of quality editorial, so they have to keep up with things like training so that their writers can do the kinds of content that the readers are expecting of us.”
The 8th edition of the Innovation in Magazine Media World Report is available in print format thanks to UPM and and in digital format powered by PressReader. The book is written for FIPP every year by Innovation Media Consulting – a global consultancy helping publishers succeed in the digital age. The author is John Wilpers, senior director of Innovation Media Consulting.
John will be joined by Juan Señor, editor of the Innovation report and senior partner of Innovation Media Consulting to drill down into the Innovation case studies at the FIPP World Congress taking place in London, 9-11 October 2017. Registration is open here.
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