How Ebner Media group transformed from a 200-year-old publisher to a multi-platform powerhouse

Ebner Media Group is predominantly a special interest and B2B publisher in Germany, producing niche titles and dealing with highly-targeted audience groups, Klein outlined. Three years ago, all of the numbers Klein was seeing were declining. He realized something had to change. “We had to confess, our structure was product-centric. We had to re-think about our approach.”

He said they realised there was a portion of Ebner’s core target audience group their single print magazines weren’t reaching. As a publishing house, staff were trained to produce a magazine and forget about it after they hit ‘print.’ That mindset was wasting energy and resources, Klein said. The structure and culture of the company had to change. 

Klein outlined several lessons Ebner Media Group learned over their three years of transformation. 

1. Don’t try to innovate within old structures

“We had to reorganise the company,” Klein said. “We rebuilt the old product units into community units. We invented a very special operation force to accelerate the change: these were transaction editors.”

2. Content matters. Your audience doesn’t want ads. They want content.

3. Ads can only travel with information

“If it’s the other way around, the business model won’t survive,” Klein noted.

4. Analyse the target audience

“Analyse their social media, build personas, identify the influencers because they give you a lot of ideas,” Klein suggested. 

5. Create multiple touchpoints

These would include other platforms your audience are on, including social media like Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Twitter, blogs, company websites. “A magazine isn’t enough,” Klein said. “It’s only one platform.”

6. MIUs, also known as minimum information units

A MUI is a small piece of content that tells a story, whether it’s a fact box from a print story, or a video of an interview. One article, for example, could contain 10 MIUs. 

7. Embedded marketing

The editor’s job is to create the widest possible reach, according to Klein. The editor has to be his own marketer. “If he or she is doing it right, they have to use social media, web, blogs, company homepages,” he said. “If they do all of these platforms, they will reach more core target audience.”

8. Develop your content goals

One of the content strategies Ebner Media Group used was specifically for their evergreen content. In 2012, the company launched the Ebner Evergreen Strategy. “Evergreen content is the content your audience is looking for, that they can reuse, share, like and push on to people,” explained Dominik Grau, chief innovation officer at Ebner. 

For WatchTime magazine, “When we started using evergreen content, our digital audience growth went up 900 per cent over three years,” he said.  Evergreen content was important to WatchTime’s content strategy because it has a long lifespan, with content engagement, high growth potential and exclusivity, among other things, Grau said. 

Ebner has a yearly, a monthly and a daily content strategy. Update your content every 90 days, promote it across all channels. “It will grow, every day, every week, every month, if you do these updates, your audience will grow,” Grau said. 

9. Think mobile first

That means you have to think from the tiniest possible device upwards, Klein said. “Start with the smartphone. Develop your website from the smartphone.”

More like this

Joe Ripp: “We are in the most exciting time for content”

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa: facing magazines’ “difficult reality”

Peter Kreisky on creating a new corporate culture

Thoughts (and evidence) on how to compete in a world where lines between media are increasingly blurred

Monetising mobile content in an ad-blocking era – advice from Unruly

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x