The Internet video tsunami: it’s a big deal, and exciting

He will share the stage with Al Zikovitz, CEO of Cottage Life Media, at the FIPP World Congress Toronto, Canada. The Congress takes place from 13-15 October 2015.

Register here to join 700-800 international delegates at the Congress

• See the provisional programme here

• See more speakers here

Video tsunami 2 ()

Blue Ant purchased Cottage Life Media, publishers of Cottage Life and Cottage Life West, in 2012. “We like the idea of being in media niches that serve a passionate audience,” says Michael. “Cottage owners own cottages because they are passionate about them. It’s about family, hope, relaxation, not about clever investing with a guaranteed return. Cottage ownership is irrational—in a very positive sense.”  (Also read an earlier Q&A with Al Zikovitz, here).

Prior to launching Blue Ant Media in 2011, MacMillan was chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis, which operated 13 Canadian television networks and distributed and produced movies and television programs. 

He spoke to Magazines Canada contributor Kim Pittaway.

1. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Canadian magazine brands?

With the flick of your finger, you can access a whole world of interesting material and images online, at a very low price. The good news is that because of this, people are reading more words and looking at more pictures, more moving pictures, and listening to more recorded sound, more music than ever before. But they are doing it in different ways and this has caused a disruption in the traditional revenue sources for media brands. When we started Blue Ant four years ago, we were trying to think about a new model, a new world, with the Internet front and centre. In that world, we asked ourselves, what kind of material would be most useful to the consumer?

2. So how does a magazine brand fit into that world?

Cottage Life punches above its weight. People seem to know it, even people who don’t own cottages. The back issues have relevance: they’re fun to look at, they’re kept on cottage side tables, like National Geographic. They retain their value. It is created directly with the cottager in mind, and is a reliable mixture of food, DIY, décor and real estate. And Cottage Life had already figured out how to leverage that brand outside the confines of the print magazine, with Cottage Life consumer shows, a television show, merchandise. We want to enable Cottage Life to continue its evolution, and have extended it into a television channel, a more robust digital platform and email offering, expanded merchandise offerings. 

3. How does the audience for the brand shift or expand as you move across platforms?

I’ll use the television channel as an example: The audience for Cottage Life Television is broader, and not as passionate about cottaging. Television is an entertainment medium, so the information is still there in the programming but it is more about entertainment, it’s more aspirational. The definition of the brand on television is broader, and you attract different viewers. On the Food Network, which we launched in Canada, we knew we weren’t just attracting cooks and chefs. We attracted everybody because everybody eats. Still, with a brand like Cottage Life, you have to know the boundaries of your brand so that what you create for that broader audience is not off-putting to your core cottagers.

4. What excites you about the future for your brands?

The Internet video tsunami will be a big deal, and it is very exciting. The world we are in right now reminds me a lot of the 1980s when satellite enabled cable upgrades and we went from 40 channels to 200. It allowed for narrow targeting of audiences, it created upheaval, it shifted the relative importance of the international marketplace and the ripple effect was gigantic. There were winners and losers. Today, the established, incumbent companies have resources, audience relationships and in-house skill. But smaller, nimble companies can see and seize opportunities and change course quickly. Because we’re relatively new and small, I think we can take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging, to get directly to new audiences beyond our traditional borders, and to develop new markets.

Michael will speak at FIPP World Congress Toronto, Canada. The Congress takes place from 13-15 October 2015.

Register here to join him and 700-800 international delegates at the Congress

• See the provisional programme here

• See more speakers here

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