What makes a magazine successful? Great content, innovation and a sound business model seem to be the essentials. Each magazine publisher has its own unique perspective, but many rely on a mix of print and online playouts. They seek the opportunity to engage different audiences through different channels and platforms in an always-on fashion. But what is beyond that? How can publishers enhance the consumer’s loyalty and find new revenue opportunities? One clear example is Bauer – publisher of newsstand titles such as TV Choice, Take a break, Bella and That’s life – and a business renowned for its print-title heritage.
“It’s probably hard to find a more traditional newsstand publisher than Bauer in the UK right now,” says Rob Munro-Hall, Group Managing Director at Bauer Media. The publishing house is quite unusual in that a large part of its business is still powered by big, weekly publications – often still with a low cover price, high volume and a reliance on the newsstand. “That’s still a big chunk of our business,” says Munro-Hall. TV Choice, for example, is still selling millions of copies a week, through the newsstand, in a very traditional way.
Despite that, Bauer has been at the forefront of expanding its magazine brands into new areas – to increase the consumer’s experience and increase revenues. And this does not only mean adapting print articles for online use or vice versa. “With many of our bigger products, like Take a Break, there are other revenue streams outside of the print magazine that are really complementary. I call that our 360 model, where we have a print brand in the middle of it with lots of satellite and brand extension products that sit all around it and do lots of different things,” he says.
Building a holistic solar system around print
Probably the best example of a holistic revenue approach is Bauer’s specialist title Motorcycle News. The newspaper still sells 60,000 copies a week at the newsstands. Its website extends the audience, recording two million unique users. Bauer has added a number of other print products – such as MCN sport and bookazines. But that’s by far not all: “We have implemented a shop on the website and an insurance product – which is now a significant business in its own right. And we have complemented our portfolio with four motorcycle shows – all under the brand name of Motorcycle News or MCN,“ Munro-Hall sums up.
Think brand experience, not channel
“Beyond just a print and digital mix, we have a large amount of activities and products – all of which appeal to this audience and which are giving us other opportunities for revenue generation. Increasingly, along with every other publisher in the land, we are trying to use our big brand titles, which have a lot of interest and trust from our audiences, to get closer to buying and selling more products,” Munro-Hall adds.
Hence, when assessing the performance of those brands, Bauer talks about how many copies they sell and how much advertising they generate – but they also now talk about the revenue per user on the website, the average transaction value on different platforms and how much revenues are going up across the whole portfolio of the brand.
“Growing is tough and it’s a very competitive space. So, it pays to diversify into digital and beyond. That said, we still see the print product very much at the heart of the brand,” Rob Munro-Hall concludes. “A brilliantly executed print product will always find an audience and if you have great editors who understand exactly what your audiences want then there is a very successful print business to be had.”
Author: Jon Watkins. Written in collaboration with FIPP - the network for global media.