The past 10 years have been a tumultuous time for the globe’s publishing houses. Not only has digital’s ascendance disrupted marketing strategies once reliant on print and broadcast, seducing advertisers away from traditional media, but the collapse of the global economy in 2008 and its slow crawl towards recovery sent advertiser budgets plummeting, exacerbating an already painful situation.
“It’s been very tough for traditional media,” says Adam Freeman, ex-managing director of Bloomberg Media EMEA, and one-time Guardian News & Media commercial chief. “If you look at The Guardian, there’s been significant re-engineering and large-scale redundancies in order to invest in the digital future.”
Even The Economist, which recently changed ownership and has historically enjoyed a largely loyal subscriber base, felt the pain of transformation.
“The money we make from people paying to read The Economist made us a business for which ad revenues are incredibly high-margin,” explains Michael Brunt, its chief marketing officer and managing director of circulation.
“So we were less susceptible. As a circulation business, I bear the cost of print and distribution; the revenue brought in from print advertising was pure profit. But that really high-margin revenue stream declined rapidly.”
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