Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne on growth in the US market
In April, the global multi-platform media company, completed the acquisition of New York-based information and events business NewBay Media. NewBay Media’s business is mainly in the provision of conferences, magazines, events, digital content and data services. The deal expands Future’s reach into the US market and increases its total owned brands to over 100 across print, events and online, with a total global reach of 120 million. The NewBay acquisition included a substantial B2B portfolio in electronics, education, TV and audio verticals, and a large consumer division in the music vertical.
In July, Future proposed the acquisition of Purch’s consumer division for $132 million, and by September, had completed the acquisition. Purch, a next generation digital publishing and marketplace platform that operates in the consumer technology and science verticals, would support Future’s position in consumer tech publishing in the US. It would also solidify Future’s position as a growing platform for specialist media.
Future has been focusing on growing in the US because there is demand and market for it, according to Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO at Future. “Games as a sector is growing, tech is growing, music is growing, B2B is growing and the shift of marketing to digital in the US market favours our core competencies in this area,” she said.
Zillah Byng-Thorne. Photo: futureplc.com
“The US market is a highly-diverse one in terms of geographies and demographics,” Byng-Thorne explained. “There is strong competition, a demanding consumer audience with sophisticated buyers, but rewarding in return as consumers and businesses require specialised content to connect with their passion or execute the business of their life,” she said. “We fill a need for them with expert content and targeted commerce.”
The US is the cornerstone in a business plan that seeks to deliver innovation, growth, market share and executional excellence in publishing, she said. “Focus is important and change is the norm. We admire and study many of the media brands that connect with consumers and generate fair profits in the US.”
Following the acquisitions Future plc made earlier this year, the media company has global scale and their US growth has doubled, Byng-Thorne said, adding, “The size of our company now means we have parity in the UK and the US.”
In the US, Future plc’s strategy is to have their specialist, market-leading brands and the experts within them providing engaging content their communities connect with, Byng-Thorne said. “Our audiences have always been at the heart of what we do so if we can reach more people and provide them with the content and expertise they want and love, then that is a win for everyone,” she said. “We think audience or community first. We generate content that is specialised and matters. We maximise opportunities to be found or to be top of mind. We innovate and operate focused media businesses. We then forge a path to market leadership and reinvest.”
For example, TechRadar has been a leader in the consumer tech category in the UK market for a number of years. Now, Future leads in the US consumer tech category with titles like PC Gamer.
Future operates two separately managed brand-led divisions: media and magazine. The group has a reach of 100 million globally, including 62 million online users and 63 million social media reach. The media division focuses on being at the forefront of digital innovation, in particular, the high growth technology and games markets. The magazine division has over 60 leading brands in diverse verticals including music, gaming, photography, home interest, field sports and technology.
In the US market, Future’s media division has a stronger presence. That said, content in any form matters, according to Byng-Thorne. “Magazines are critical and viable, and a fundamental part of the experience for large sections of our audience.”
Since Byng-Thorne joined as CEO in 2014, Future has focused on diversifying its revenue streams, by building brands they can scale globally on their platform model.
“With the print market in decline, it’s important we stay relevant as a company and that’s by finding new ways to monetise our content and our audiences,” Byng-Thorne said.
The company’s proprietary ecommerce platform, Hawk, has been a reliable revenue stream for them and it works to serve both the consumer and the vendor in equal measure, she said.
“We have also diversified through the other arms of our business, including our impressive events portfolio, our content marketing division, our B2B division and through digital advertising,” she said.
This year’s acquisitions of NewBay Media and Purch help Future leverage content to deliver more diversified revenue sources moving forward.
“Our stated strategy remains our focus,” Byng-Thorne said. “So, we will continue to double-down on the value delivered through integration of our acquired businesses, by driving our tech platform to bring audiences and advertisers together, and we’ll seek to do this in diverse markets.”
Going forward, Future will focus on the integration of Purch and NewBay Media in the US, Byng-Thorne said. “This has been a year of phenomenal change for us so our focus is on aligning everything perfectly, and optimising the opportunities we have available to us at this moment in time,” she said.
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