[Congress speaker Q&A] How a Canadian publisher turned ‘the traditional ad model on its head’

Jacqueline Loch, VP and group publisher of Women’s Brands at St. Joseph Media, which includes Fashion, “the #1 fashion and beauty brand in Canada with 1.4 million readers. It also has the largest social media audience of any Canadian magazine with over 2,600,000 followers”. Jacqueline is also chair of the board for The Content Council.  


***Jacqueline will be among speakers from around the world at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London from 9-11 October. Book your ticket here.***


Below she tells us, among other things, about the transformation of Fashion, their thinking behind it and how, with this shift, they “turned the traditional advertising revenue model” on its head.


First, tell us a little about yourself 

I am an art college-educated media junkie specialising in delivering multi-platform content marketing solutions and ROI for audiences and advertisers across print, digital, broadcast and social media. 

In my current role as VP and group publisher, Women’s Brands at St Joseph Media, I oversee a portfolio of media brands including Fashion, Weddingbells, Mariage Québec and Canadian Family. I work closely with St. Joseph’s largest clients to create innovative and compelling cross-platform marketing solutions. In my not-so-spare time, I am the chair of the board for The Content Council in New York.


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Prior to this I was VP and group publisher, English Brands, Groupe TVA, where I published: Canadian Living, Elle Canada, Style at Home, Canadian Gardening and The Hockey News. In my former role as VP Content Solutions at Rogers Media, I launched and lead Rogers award-winning Content Solutions division — responsible for creating and executing multi-platform content strategies for a wide range of clients. Previously, as VP Client Solutions, I launched and lead Rogers Media’s 70-person integrated creative and strategy agency team located in Toronto and Montreal. 

I am a graduate in Communications and Design from the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD University).

Tell us about St Joseph Media and the division you run? 

St. Joseph Media is a privately owned Canadian media company that is a division of St. Joseph Communications, Canada’s largest privately owned communications company with three distinct business platforms: media, content and print.

We publish a portfolio of Canadian consumer magazine titles including: Toronto Life, Fashion, Men’s Fashion, Weddingbells, Mariage Québec, Where magazines, Ottawa Magazine, and Quill and Quire. 

Within St. Joseph Media, I lead the Women’s Group, which includes Fashion, the #1 fashion and beauty brand in Canada with 1.4 million readers. It also has the largest social media audience of any Canadian magazine with over 2,600,000 followers, including Twitter (@FashionCanada), Instagram (@FashionCanada), Facebook (Facebook.com/FASHIONCanada) and Pinterest (Pinterest.com/FASHIONMagazine). 

The portfolio of titles also includes Weddingbells and Mariage Québec — Canada’s leading bridal publications with reach to over 80 per cent of Canadian brides across our platforms in print, digital and social media.


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In the past year you have positioned Fashion as a luxury brand in the market, and expanded distribution to the US. Tell us more about this? 

The fundamental shift in positioning Fashion as a luxury brand versus a magazine has lead to a complete rethink on how the brand is taken to market and how we behave in market. 

We started acting like a luxury brand. 

First we looked at the print product itself. We made a decision to be a luxury brand — and we made a commitment to deliver a quality luxury brand to our audiences and to our advertisers. This applies to everything that we do from the quality of the paper stock that we print on, to the quality of our content and our content strategy to the quality of our advertisers. Our goal was to focus on creating a luxe environment and a luxe experience. 

Our advertising integrations and collaborations are focused on creating premium reader experiences, and that is what we use to measure everything that we do. We have created premium digital experiences for our advertisers with a controlled luxury environment and opportunities for 100 per cent SOV (share of voice). We turned away many of the programmatic advertising categories that were harmful to our brand, which meant turning away revenue, in favour of creating a luxury environment that we sell at a high CPM. We focus on quality of engagement and consumer experience versus reach and audience numbers. 

You described it in an earlier email to me as “turning the traditional revenue model on its head”. Tell us more? 

Traditional magazine revenue streams have been declining year-over-year, and we all know that that is not a sustainable business model for any media brand. At the same time consumer media consumption habits have been changing towards mobile-based experiences that range from video to social platforms. On top of all of that change – social platforms are emerging, evolving and being adopted (and dropped) at a real-time pace. 

We have focused on consumer engagement and editorial integrations — and through innovative concepts and technology, we are changing our conversations with advertisers and the way that we partner with them to bring advertising brands to market. We are treating Fashion magazine as a brand with a complete 360 ecosystem and we are focusing on when, what and where consumers are engaging with us. This approach has turned the revenue model on its head — we are no longer selling media — we are co-creating complex marketing solutions with our advertisers. We are taking innovative concepts, testing them out via editorial executions, proving out the concepts and then taking them to market and using our editorial best-practices and benchmarks as the model to establish KPIs and to prove out ROI for marketers.  

The result is a shift in advertising revenue from 100 per cent traditional to a diversified stream with revenue coming from everything from branded content, video, social media, influencer programs, co-branded cover executions to augmented reality, events and custom research. 

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You said one of the outcomes is actually successfully increasing it despite a declining print market. Tell us more? 

We have senior-level conversations with our advertisers all the time and there is a common message that we are continually receiving from the CMOs and Agency Heads that we partner with. The message is that they love Fashion as a brand, but that they are looking to us to offer them products and solutions that they can partner with us on. They are looking to test and learn, they are looking for consumer engagement — and they are very interested in what we are doing for our audiences from an editorial perspective and what our audiences are looking for. 

They are looking for true editorial integrations and partnerships and they are very interested in the fact that we are investing in our brand. The traditional sales conversation is now one about collaboration and partnership. Together we are creating new opportunities that are leading to larger investments beyond the typical page rate. We are creating content assets that can be shared across an advertiser’s content eco-system as well as our own. There is money for innovation and good ideas that are on brand and on strategy for both partners. 

We are also using our category expertise to produce some exclusive branded content initiatives — for example, we were recently announced as the content agency for the soon-to-be relaunched Toronto Fashion Week taking place in September and featuring Jean-Paul Gaultier as international guest host.


Please expand a little on the following… 

• Retail events: We look upon our editorial teams as influencers, tastemakers and subject matter experts — and through our traditional editorial we regularly publish trend reports for our readers. We are creating new revenue streams by working with retail partners to create new revenue-generating products to take to market. Examples are retail events with editorial appearances and presentations for store openings or product launches, or a series of events for retail sales teams as training sessions on consumer trends or selling to Millennials or Generation Z.

• Influencer programs: We recognise that our editors are influencers and with the scale of our or social media audiences on Fashion we have the ability to produce revenue-generating programs based in social media and video that can drive results for brands and amplify their traditional advertising spends. Examples of this are the many Facebook Live programs and Instagram take-overs that we have been creating for brands from luxury retailers like Saks, Sephora, Swarovski and Pandora to consumer packaged goods and beauty brands such as Essie, Gillette and Garnier.

• Cover integrations: We look beyond the traditional advertising positions around covers and now think about cover feature stories and how to bring them to life in a whole new way. We have been working with select advertising brands to create a magazine cover and cover feature experience that spans from the print edition (i.e.: flip books, multi-page covers, perforated peel and reveal covers) to digital (i.e.: live cover shoots where we push out live social and video assets well in advance of the publication date) to social media (i.e.: Facebook Live, Instagram take-overs). We take the theme of the issue and bring it to life in a 360 multi-platform execution and in collaboration with an advertiser we produce something larger and more impactful than either of us could have done on our own.

• Content that drives ecommerce: We build our digital content with a mobile-first approach and have created a suite on digital modules and e-newsletter products that we can use in collaboration with an advertiser to drive to their e-commerce platforms. We have created shopable slideshows within our online editorial features and have launched new e-newsletter products with images with “buy now” buttons that link directly to an advertiser’s e-commerce platform.

• Shoppable video: With so much of our content shifting to video format we are working with advertisers to produce videos that are shoppable with direct links to ecommerce.


Can you give us an indication of how your various income streams now contribute to overall turnover, and how you see this potentially change in the next 1 and 3 years? 

Diversified revenue streams are the future of our brand and while traditional advertising still makes up the majority of the revenue, our new revenue currently represents about 25% of the total. My prediction is that this will grow exponentially in the next 1-3 years and that within 3 years the new revenue streams will be the majority of the revenue. I also predict that partnerships with media brands will grow, as will overall revenues. Reinventing a media brand with new revenue streams and with new objectives will allow magazine brands to expand beyond the current restrictions of geography and the current revenue model. 

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What other innovations are on your radar screen in the near to medium term? 

We are excited about innovation in general — here is what is currently on our radar screen 

• Soundwave-enabled experiences — not kidding!

• Virtual reality and augmented reality

• Video, video and more video

• Shoppable video — e-commerce and repositioning a magazine as a direct-to-consumer storefront

• Chat Bots and Artificial Intelligence — conversational marketing

• 5G Mobile devices — they are coming 


Do you have plans for international expansion beyond Canada and the US? 

We are currently focused on changing the business model and increasing share and revenue within our own market. That being said, with a current social media audience of 2.6 million, a mobile-first approach to content, and partnerships with international luxury brands — combined with the international make-up of the growing and diverse Canadian population…anything is possible. Who knows — with opportunities like content syndication, strategic partnerships and an international content strategy…the opportunities could be endless. 

Anything else you’d like to share with the FIPP audience? 

Just one thought that I tend to live by: there is always money for a good idea. 

***Meet and hear more from Jacqueline at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London. Book now***


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