The 2014 Advantage Management Roundtable took place in Helsinki, Finland, on 9 and 10 October. This was a gathering of executives and managers of AdvantageCS clients in Europe who met to share their vision of the publishing industry and their priorities. Arnaud Habrant (Martin Media, France), Philippe Toulemonde (Ouest France, France), Mark Judd (CDS Global, United Kingdom), Klas Person (Egmont Publishing, Sweden), Juha Blomster and Pirjo Nurmilaukas (A-lehdet, Finland), and Santtu Elsinen and Ilkka Torkkel (Talentum, Finland) joined the roundtable.
A-ledhet Oy graciously hosted the meeting in its beautiful office, with a great view of one of the 1,000 lakes of Finland. Many thanks to Juha Blomster, A-lehdet CEO, and Pirjo Nurmilaukas, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales, for making it all happen.
On the AdvantageCS side, Tom Burbeck, Dan Heffernan, Derek Johnson, Bryan Varblow and Philippe van Mastrigt made the trip in order to carefully listen to these discussions and share and debate AdvantageCS’ plans to address the challenges of our industry.
Juha Blomster started the roundtable by sharing how A-lehdet is currently addressing the shared concern of all publishers: how to compensate for print revenue decreases with new (digital) revenue streams. A-lehdet has implemented a new strategy based on their strong brands: first by developing eCommerce business from products shown in their magazines and secondly by moving from a single (print) magazine carrying the brand, to a community approach. A strong social network based on bloggers and reader interaction is combined with magazines and other products (see last year’s blog post about this topic).
Juha gave an impressive live demonstration of an app where he took a picture in a magazine (a Finnish design chair) which he then inserted into a picture of the meeting room, to show exactly how it would look, with a direct link to order it now! Juha explained that in the current context of radical change, you will most likely need to try a number of ideas to find the ones that work. He believes trial and error is necessary to build the learning curve for future success.
After A-lehdet's presentation, the other publishers shared their viewpoints. They all had in common a radical change in revenue streams. Advertising has diminished in large part, print subscriptions are declining, and new income from digital remains challenging. Transitioning in this new market forces publishers to keep print subscription decreases under control, and continue to test new revenue streams and models. “Test and Learn” remains a key approach, although many acknowledged the challenge of finding enough dedicated resources to focus on it. A brand’s strength is a major asset, because if consumers trust the brand, it can serve as a launch pad for many new projects. Technology is also central, with knowledge and investment vital to success in the future. And last but not least, the current climate offers many opportunities for publishers to work on projects together, as they no longer consider one another competitors. Competition comes from outside (Google, Apple…) and it is essential to unite.
Dan Heffernan ended the roundtable with a presentation of the Advantage roadmap. He summarized four core elements to address the fast pace of change:
- more front office functionality (eCommerce platform, contact center & CTI integration, campaign & selects, social media connection)
- extended features for some of our core businesses (book publishing, membership…)
- quicker availability (update services)
- more services (Saas options, managed services…)
The presentation ended with a preliminary demonstration of the new eCommerce platform. It’s an "out of the box" eCommerce and eCare solution, dedicated to subscription and product business and fully integrated with Advantage. The direct access for marketers in setting up their promotions was of great interest among the audience. The roundtable ended with more valuable input from the participants on this roadmap, with suggestions for additional integration and forms options.
Once again, the Management Roundtable clearly displayed how much the Advantage community can provide refreshing ideas by gathering together different publishers from different countries. Advantage is more than just a system… it’s a community!