How Mondadori in Italy turned a website into a top selling print magazine
Giallozafferano.it has been around as website since 2006. At what stage did you realise it presented an opportunity to create a printed product?
Giallozafferano has been the reference online website in Italy within the cooking segment. Our December 2016 metrics show 6.8 million monthly unique users visited the site, with 600,000 unique users doing so every day. This is five times more than our closest competitor. Moreover, we have the support of a loyal and fully engaged community on social networks. GialloZafferano has 4.9 million active fans on its fan pages and a community of more than 12.000 bloggers who write on a dedicated food blogging platform. Early experiments with the brand extension from web to print was very successful with three books published by the Mondadori Publishing Group when the website was still within the Banzai Media stable. Shortly after the acquisition of Banzai Media by Mondadori last year (2016) the idea of producing a monthly magazine born from the website came about. It was given momentum by the strong brand awareness and audience engagement of giallozafferano.it. With Mondadori’s existing and extensive expertise and specialisation in the food magazine segment – we already publish five magazines in this sector – we knew that the GialloZafferano brand offered a huge opportunity.
Early assessment of the new magazine is that it’s a successful collaboration of long-established professionals working with a new generation of young experts. Has this influenced the approach to product and format?
Yes, the distinctive expertise and diversity of our teams has been key to the success of the magazine. Content planners, web experts and journalists work side by side within one team to allow their skills to complement the product. This kind of collaboration was crucial to the uniqueness of the product. It can be seen in how original online recipes, as one example, were brought to life by the magazine team’s experience in quality by their careful editing and design.
Were there any surprises and/or lessons learnt?
We learnt many lessons but the most important again was how important the internet is as a source of insight on what people like and what people actually want. Through the broader usage of our digital channels from the website to our fan pages we gather valuable information by constantly communicating with our readers. This is so important that we will apply the same model to other brands. We are going to increase the active usage of social networks and digital channels to build stronger communication with the readership of all our existing magazines.
As you just mentioned, brands are becoming more and more aware how important it is for web, social media, new technologies and print to complement each other. Did you work with a planned strategy?
We made extended use of digital and social media to produce each edition. Our cover was picked from a selection posted via an interactive survey on Facebook and recipes picked by engaging readers to vote on a dedicated mini-website. Through the use of augmented reality we managed to provide our readers a more immersive experience by offering videos of how the recipes we featured in the magazine are actually prepared.
We heard that the first print edition perform well above expectation. What are your future targets?
Our first magazine in March sold 410,000 copies, with a positive margin, and our future circulation targets are 200,000 copies per edition. Our main target is to continue offering a quality product to develop our revenue model, which is based on newsstand sales, and add on and collateral revenues as well as events.
More about Carlo Mandelli…
Born in Milan in 1964, Carlo Mandelli joined the Mondadori Group in 1990, where he acquired extensive experience in magazine and internet activities. In particular, from 1997 to 1999, he became controller of the Magazines Division, later becoming general manager and board member of Mondadori.com in 2000. He took over the role of publisher of men’s lifestyle, car and technology magazines from 2002 to 2004, after which he was appointed business unit director for upmarket and interior magazines. In November 2012 he became general manager of Magazines Italy.
Since July 2013, he has also been chairman and CEO of Mondadori International Business, chairman of Press-di Abbonamenti since January 2017, chairman of Press-di Distribuzione e stampa since April 2015 and chairman of Inthera (former Cemit Interactive Media) since December 2015.
Mandelli has been a Director of FIEG (Federazione italiani editori giornali, the Italian newspaper and magazine publishers association) since December 2012 and is currently responsible for product protection. Since May 2016 he has been chairman of ADS (Accertamenti Diffusione Stampa, the Italian association that supplies statistics about circulation of newspapers and magazines).
He is also a member of the FIPP management board.