View from the top: Magazine media chiefs give advice at FIPP Congress

A digital-first strategy is the future, and the power of brand will be the driving force. Panelists in the closing session of the FIPP World  Congress in Rome today agreed that moving from print to digital is no longer the focus as much as building brand awareness across all channels.

Wenny Wang, CEO of Business Weekly Group, Chinese Taipei (pictured), credited Business Weekly’s position as the largest-circulation magazine in Taiwan to the power of brand. Taiwan is the only country where a business publication is the number one title, Wang said. Despite a decline in print revenue over the last seven years, she views the main industry challenge as that of going from print to “multi” media: multiple uses, multiple income streams, multiple platforms.

“Our industry is about brand management, which is based on content and customer,” said Wang.

Bob Carrigan, IDG board of directors, USA, pointed out that print revenue peaked for IDG in 1999, and while they’re not looking for print to go away, the decline is no longer a shock. IDG is managing the transfer with a growing digital business, which ranges from 25 to 50 per cent depending on the country.

Instead of focusing on platform-specific strategies, IDG views channels as part of a multi-screen approach for reaching readers, with more screens rapidly being added over time. Delight the reader first and the advertiser will follow, said Carrigan.

Carlo Mandelli, manager of magazines, Italy for the Mondadori Group, said that Mondadori looks to brand awareness for expanding their revenue streams, even as content structure has changed and transformed journalism.

The transition to digital has been “a long road for us,” said Rupert Heseltine, chairman of Haymarket Media Group, UK. Haymarket Media Group ventured into the digital space in 1999, but it wasn’t until 18 months ago that they made it a strategic mission to become digital-first.

When asked to offer advice for magazine publishers going forward, the panelists emphasised openness to change, swift thinking, and optimism, even when the primary question is no longer about the transition to digital.

Be fast and don’t worry about possible mistakes, said Carrigan.

“You’ve got to keep trying. Keep trying, keep innovating,” said Heseltine. “If you lead a business, ask yourself if you’re willing to change. Change comes from the top.”

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