How non-retail distribution has become central to the UK magazine industry

Another key growth area for print is the customer magazine industry where, interestingly some very digitally focused companies have recently recognised the opportunities that creating a printed media product can create.

How though do these publishers get their copies into the hands of readers? Gold Key Media has been distributing magazines from direct to hand in city streets through to placement in upmarket venues such as high-end hotels, for 16 years now.

Here the company MD, Chris Horn, talks placement strategies for publishers, and how his company is building a digital element of the business to complement the print core. 

From your vantage point how do you see the future of print media?

We see the future of print remaining strong. In our experience people still prefer to read print publications in a leisure, travel or business environment. There remains a strong bond between the feel of a glossy magazine and the reader that can’t be replicated in a digital format.

Has it surprised you how large the free magazine marketplace – with addition of NME, Time Out etc – has become in London? Has it reached saturation point?

Not a surprise at all. There used to be a perception that free publications had a lesser value than paid products. That perception is now thankfully being changed by proving to advertisers that the audience remains valid, targeted and auditable. “Audience capture” is a critical factor in this evolution. Match the distribution to the audience and you have an extremely successful business model. However, I do believe the ad agencies need to see beyond the tube/travel point distribution as being the main route of audience capture. Too many products being thrust into pedestrians’ hands at tube stations could create apathy and enforced regulation. Capturing an audience at their place of work in a more receptive and engaging environment has to be considered as part of the circulation mix.

Do you think there are still significant opportunities for niche free distributed print titles?

Yes, as above. Quality and verifiable distribution is vital to succeed in this area. Don’t cut corners. Treat distribution as critical as your design and editorial. It’s pointless publishing an amazing magazine if you can’t access the audience that your advertisers pay you to target.

How do you go about creating a copy placement strategy for publishers?

We spend a lot of time in advance dialoguing with our publisher clients establishing specifically who their readers are and who their intended advertisers are. We then construct a plan that engages our venue team in securing the approval of the venues that we want to receive the copies. It is vital that the venues agree to receive and place the copies in advance and know where copies are to be placed and made available to guests, passengers etc. It’s then equally important that we provide our publishers with specific demographic data on the audience we have managed to secure and the reason why they are relevant to the advertisers they are securing. If this is backed up by a valid ABC or BPA certificate, then the publisher has a compelling proposition to take to the agencies and advertisers they desire.

Is the growth of content marketing and branded publishing proving to a significant growth factor in your business?

Yes it has. Our business has evolved as these publishers have become more specialised and ultimately more successful. Their expectations and demands are just as high as those of consumer publications, and some of the niche and targeted events we have managed on their behalf have been extremely successful and allowed us to expand our distribution on a global basis.

How do you work with publishers in delivering digital publications?

We have a variety of methods of distributing publications digitally. We have a platform that we rent on a monthly basis to hotels, offices, venues that allows guests, tenants etc. to download content in a PDF format. The venues are able to white label the platform to match their corporate profile and select the content to match their guests. We are working with a variety of publishers in both a paid for and free sampling capacity. We are also working with abc to get these download counted on publishers certificates.

Additionally we have an app solution that we use at specific events to make content available to visitors to events such as the Farnborough Airshow etc.

How do you see the digital side of your business developing in the future?

We see digital being a growth area to our business that complements our traditional distribution activities. It allows us to distribute content globally easily and cost effectively, and enhances our relationships with our venue clients who want to offer a digital media solution for the guests and clients.

What do you think your business will look like in a decade? Or is it impossible to guess?

We are now 16 years old and have seen our business continue to evolve as the media business has evolved. It’s difficult to predict how our business will look in a decade. However I’m confident that we will continue to adapt ahead of the curve and to capture niche and targeted audiences for the publishing and advertising industries.

Gold Key Media is just one of 12 media and digital companies, who will be opening their doors in May to welcome the delegates of the FIPP London Media Tour. There are only a few places left, don’t miss out secure your place today.

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