With its print and online products reaching around six million readers every month, Central Médiacsoport is one of the leading media companies in Hungary. Among its stable of high-quality-titles is Nők Lapja, the popular women’s title established in 1949, which in 2020 placed its digital content behind a paywall. To help Central Médiacsoport develop an effective paid content strategy, the publisher this year turned to the FIPP-backed FT + Google North Star Foundation Programme.
Limited to only 12 publishers, the initiative offers a practical and focused three-day course to propel a company’s digital news business forward – strengthening digital journalism, developing audiences and growing a reader revenue model with a hands-on approach. Using the FT’s exclusive North Star tool, media groups can create an action plan and detailed roadmap to achieve strategic ambitions.
We caught up with Tímea Lipták, Magazine Division Director at Central Médiacsoport, to talk about how FT + Google North Star Foundation Programme has helped the publisher, how the media landscape has changed in Hungary and the importance of print.
What were your biggest takeaways from the FT + Google North Star Foundation Programme?
That a clear goal is essential to prepare a valid business plan. The goal has to be introduced to the wide team in order to motivate them.
Have you applied any of the programme’s lessons to Central Mediacsoport yet?
Yes, we focus even more on the integrated workflows among print and digital in the case of Nők Lapja. Some content development is also planned for 2024.
Would you recommend the Google + FT North Star Foundation programme to other publishers?
I would definitely recommend the Google + FT North Star Foundation programme to other publishers because of its efficient methology.
How has the media landscape changed in Hungary over the last few years?
The Hungarian media landscape shows a content consumption shift from print to digital and unfortunately the big digital tech companies has the highest share (34%) among each media segments. In 2022 the total print ad spending increased by 3,4% vs 2021, the local digital segment increased by 1,9% vs previous year.
You publish Marie Claire Hungary – what is the key to making a success of a local version of such an iconic magazine?
The local fresh content is the key. We publish nine issues per year, which is outstanding among the international editions. Our last cover introduced the most popular Hungarian Z-generation singer, Azariah on the cover, which was very local and very fresh. Besides the print editions we publish digital issues as well. In Hungary we published the first AI generated cover introducing a Hungarian singer, Adél Csobot, which reached a significant social coverage. Almost 100% of the content is local, one of the fashion stories and sometimes the cover (and cover interview) is international.
How important is print to Central Mediacsoport?
Print still delivers the highest part of the profitability of the company due to the high circulation of the traditional weeklies like Nők Lapja, Színes RTV (TV guide), Story, Best and Meglepetés. In the mid-term still there is a big potential in print circulation of the weeklies, but just a few titles will remain in print in the long run. The thematical or seasonal brand extensions of Nők Lapja, which is aimed at a niche target group or focuses on specific topics seems to be alive in the long run.
What are the future plans of Central Mediacsoport? How will the company evolve over the next few years?
In the next few years we plan to further develop the digital platforms of the existing print brands as well. And we will be working on finding alternative revenue streams beside the existing advertising and circulation revenues.