The revolution in magazine processes

In advertising, content creation, marketing, back-office functions and everything in between, what was done just a few years ago has been rendered obsolete, as new ways to interact with and serve stakeholders push the old ways into the trash bin.

“The model itself hasn’t changed,” says Doug Manoni, CEO of Source Media. “We produce content, and that creates engagement, and we monetise that engagement in various ways. What’s changed is that technology is transforming every single phase of the business. It’s ubiquitous. It’s impacting the business on a wholesale level.”

It’s a new world of “VUCA,” says Lenny Izzo, group president of legal media at ALM. “That’s an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It’s an old military term that I learned as a tank driver.”

Uncertainty comes in the form of new competitors. It comes with the decline in traditional branding-based display advertising, and the rise of new formats like cost-per-lead sales and programmatic advertising. Complexity comes in the form of tying together new expensive technologies that cross email, web, billing, production, ad-management, and content creation. Ambiguity comes in the form of not having the expertise to evaluate expensive new systems, and sometimes not knowing the right KPIs. Volatility? How about not knowing whether a new software system that cost $1 million will be relevant in 18 months?

This report is an on-the-ground look at process change in magazine media companies and how it’s affecting, well, nearly everything, from organisational structure and staffing needs, to assumptions about efficiency and newly essential skillsets. We’ll look at overall philosophies and approaches, and then explore, mainly through case studies, what publishing companies and executives are actually doing. 

Radical changes in process are driven by several things, of course. But mostly, it’s a function of two things: emerging technologies that enable new methods of serving markets, and a quest within companies for efficiency driven by economic necessity. 

“To me, the change in publishing is similar to the change that airlines have had in the way they fill seats,” says Todd Krizelman, CEO of MediaRadar, which provides advertising intelligence services to media companies. “Ten years ago it was okay to have planes that were half full, and pricing was, you might say, very ‘flexible.’ In the subsequent wave of bankruptcies, there was enormous pressure to make sure that seats were filled and that every employee was doing something—and today airlines sell not just seats, but storage, food and beverages, preferred seats, and more. 

“Media companies are similar,” Krizelman says. “They’re under enormous pressure to find new revenue opportunities, while maintaining the same or a better, higher class of service. It has meant a lot of forced change in processes.”


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