How to thrive in the new world

Wilpers and Senor will present the Innovation in Magazine Media session at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto from 13-15 October, as well as host the Innovation Forum stream as part of the overall Congress programme.

The question you should ask and answer honestly, Wilpers and Senor told FIPP contributor Jon Watkins, is whether your business equipped to thrive in the new world? They argue that while the innovation road map for magazine is clear, it is a safe bet that in most cases proper execution is lacking.

What developments have we seen since last year’s Innovation in Magazine Media World Report?

Each year we are seeing some clear milestones on the journey through innovation. Two years ago we began to see some clear directions innovation was going in and the areas business were focusing on. Last year, we were able to identify six clearly defined keys to success: mobile as the dominant platform; video the dominant mode; native advertising the dominant vehicle; programmatic the dominant method; data driving decisions; and events and e-commerce becoming significant ad replacements. What we’ve seen this year is not only that those six keys to success continue to be true, but also that we’ve reached a point where companies must no longer just think about innovating — they must actually begin innovating. The time for thinking is over. The time for action has arrived. We have reached the “innovate or die” stage.

So businesses have a pretty good roadmap for success now?

Yes. But… while there is a clear path to success with innovation, it’s a very safe bet that most staffs at most magazine media do not feel either empowered or skilled enough to make the required innovations happen. The concepts are proven. The problem is execution. And the roadblock to execution is culture. Corporate cultures that do not embrace, encourage, and reward innovation are genetically incapable of successfully innovating. The innovations needed to carry the company into the 21st century will die. And gradually the companies themselves will die. 

How big an issue is the lack of good execution?

Some people are referring to it as a skills gap, but for us it’s the culture gap again. Without the right culture, the training to fix the skills gap doesn’t get approved. Without the right culture, staff won’t take chances on new ideas. Without the right culture, the magazine won’t be able to attract bright, innovative, digitally savvy new hires. Some magazine executives find the innovations threatening, it’s a world they don’t understand and so, to avoid appearing stupid, they don’t ask the right questions or hire people who know more than they do about these things. It’s easier, for example, to hire a ‘head of content’ from a traditional magazine editor background, than to bring in someone from BuzzFeed or Vice or HuffPost or the Atlantic. So we kind of have the equivalent of a dam, whereby all this proven innovation is being blocked by a culture and skills gaps. If we can break that dam, the future is much brighter. This year’s Innovations book has clear examples of how to do this stuff well. We just need executives to embrace it and follow through.

How do we create a change culture?

We go into a lot of businesses to help them understand the issue and create a plan of action for change. And it’s not an easy thing to do. It takes a minimum of six months to a year and you have to work to get the senior team and every employee on board. The process has to be organic and it has to be both top-down and bottom-up. You have to involve all the staff, from PAs up through admin staff, editors and sales teams – because they are the ones who have “boots on the ground” and understand what is working and what isn’t. You have to ask lots of questions and get people on board with change – which is not easy to do, because you are asking them to change their professional definition of themselves.

What specific trends are we seeing around mobile, native and data?

We knew mobile was going to take off and it has, in a very big way. It still has not caught up with desktop, but it won’t be long before it does because it’s growing 25 times faster. Use of data is also growing, although it would be growing faster still if more people knew how to do it well. Many business struggle with creating the right data to collect and understanding how to do the analysis and application of the data lessons to their strategies and new products. That’s another cultural problem. Many businesses are collecting data but they just don’t know what to do with it. With native, the growth in terms of spending is amazing. There is still a war around whether native advertising is right for businesses, but it could be the shortest war ever. There was a 50 per cent increase in native advertising spend between 2013 and 2014 and it’s already 20 per cent of digital ad spending in the US, so the war is appearing increasingly one-sided.

What should we be watching out for in the future?

The disturbing trend we discovered this year which hasn’t been on the agenda in a big way before is advertising fraud. Ad fraud is costing the industry US$6.3bn a year. Much of that comes from the clicks and responses businesses think they are getting from humans but which are actually coming from bot networks (groups of infected personal computers), which can now give the impression of being real people and can take a journey right to the point of purchase. Digital ad fraud effects between 10 and 60 per cent of all digital advertising, depending on the type (search, video, third party traffic, private exchanges, re-targeting, etc.) Even the biggest brands and biggest magazine publishers are being robbed of millions of dollars a year. And yet, the industry is moving slowly. For example, a group of UK publishers, agencies and brands met in January to address the problem and scheduled their next meeting for June. This is a war – a very, very expensive war – and six months is entirely too long to wait. So, in addition to everything else, ad fraud is an area where the industry must get its act together very quickly. Ad fraud eats away at the very core of our business: the trust advertisers have in our ability to deliver our audience. If that audience is increasingly non-human, our stock in trade is ruined. 

About the FIPP Innovation World Report

This year’s edition of the FIPP Innovation World Report will be launched at the FIPP/VDZ/eMediaSF Digital Innovators’ Summit [] in Berlin, Germany next week, 23-24 March 2015.

Find out more about the FIPP Innovation World Report here, including how to order the report.

SPECIAL PRINT BUNDLE OFFER: Hold it, keep it, pass it around!

This is your opportunity to not only get the highly acclaimed FIPP Innovation World Report, but also all of our recent, in-depth FIPP Insight publications – at the bundled price of:

  • £149 for FIPP members (normal value, when bought individually £586)
  • £199 for non-members (normal value, when bought individually £761)

The bundle includes print editions of the new FIPP Innovation World Report, World Magazine Trends 2014/15, World Digital Media Factbook 2014/15 and Proof of Performance V2.

Find out more here and/or contact Helen Bland for help.

About the FIPP World Congress

The FIPP Congress is the world’s leading international magazine media event, and the speakers will be part of a programme with more than 45 top global speakers covering topics across three broad themes:

• Industry innovation and transformation

• Company innovation and transformation

• Brand innovation and transformation

The Congress also plays host to three other events (with custom booking options – see more at the FIPP Congress website

The Worldwide Media Marketplace – your chance to meet media businesses looking to explore opportunities around overseas publishing and magazine, tablet, app and website licensing

The Digital Newsstand Forum – your chance to hear the very latest on developments in the world of mobile content strategies

The Innovation Forum – your chance to participate in a hands-on speaker-and-seminar forum focused entirely on innovation.

Find out more at this, the preliminary programme, speakers so far confirmed and social events at

13-15 October 2015. Book your ticket for Toronto today!

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