In 2016, as a response to the downturn in print advertising revenue, the team at St. Joseph Media’s FASHION magazine began work on a massive undertaking that ultimately led to a complete transformation of their brand, and in the process turned their advertising revenue model on its head.
They did this by repositioning FASHION as a luxury brand and expanding its presence in the United States.
Through a multi-platform content strategy based in quality editorial, innovation and positioning the magazine as a luxury brand, they have been able to successfully drive advertising revenues in a declining market.
Much of their strategy was driven by frustrations their luxury brand advertisers had in the advertising ecosystem that more and more brands are increasingly pulling their dollars from.
“They really had a lack of control with the quality of environment with programmatic and also frankly with just straight digital ad buys,” says Jacqueline Loch, vice president and Group Publisher at St. Joseph Media in the latest episode of AudioMag. “They had a lack of control with quality audiences. And they were also challenged because they were data rich, but insight poor. Meaning that with all sorts of data coming at them from all of the buys on digital platforms, there was questionable measurement of delivery and also the effectiveness.”
The timing coincided with advertisers looking for more branded content opportunities and partnerships, and media consumption habits changing.
“Advertisers were looking for deeper integrations, more results, more partnerships,” says Loch. “And then we had consumer consumption habits completely changing and their expectations around what a media company should do completely changing with really a truly mobile first expectation for real-time content, digital content, video, etc.”
Loch will be sharing the process and several examples of content partnerships, including a cover partnership with L’Oreal Paris that was a huge hit on social media.
With branded content initiatives claiming as much as 30% of advertisers dollars, it’s an approach other publishers will want to watch closely.
“This new ecosystem is completely upside down,” says Loch. “There are programs where 80% of the budget may go towards content production. It challenges everything. It challenges how the program is assessed. It challenges how a marketer’s CFO will look at a spend. And it challenges also the agency model.”
Partnering on New Products
Generating revenues from advertisers in a way that is different from purely selling ad space has required a whole new approach for editorial teams, as well as sales.
“So for example Facebook Live—we do a lot of integrative programs with advertisers in this space—we’re very innovative in the space,” says Loch. “But we started in editorial. We had the editorial teams try it. We had them test things—length of story; length of broadcast; how it needed to be scheduled. We have been finding a lot of success in testing things in editorial first.”
Changes in What Publishers are Selling
With this approach to new products for advertisers, the sales team becomes far more engaged and involved in what is being sold.
“The sales team that was used to selling a commodity are now having to sell a content solution so it is a much more complex sale. It requires a senior-level consultative approach where it is a lot of listening and determining what is the right approach versus ‘Would you like to buy an ad?,’ not that that’s ever easy,” says Loch.
Jacquie Loch will present her session Advertising Partnerships and the New Magazine Ecosystem: Turning the Revenue Model on its Head Through Innovation on Thursday, April 26 at MagNet.
MagNet is the largest gathering for magazine media professionals in North America, with keynotes, panels, awards and unparalleled networking. The two-day event kicks off April 25 in Toronto. Register for MagNet 2018.
AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been recognized with honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the New York Festivals, Amnesty International and the Gabriel Awards. Visit Tina online to learn more about her work.
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