It’s a question of ….New Media buying VISI, the magazine it has been publishing under license for Media 24 for the past 14 years. It is a big move for the company that specialises in content marketing for a number of publishing clients. In fact, the only two other magazines it owns are the directories, Eat Out and Eat In.
TheMediaOnline caught up with New Media managing director Bridget McCarney to find out more.
The transfer of ownership, says McCarney, was motivated by New Media’s recognition that, while VISI was facing commercial challenges, with some fresh thinking it could experience really good commercial growth. “It is a flagship title for us that we see great value in, and we are committed to making it work.”
Was the title under threat from Media24? Seems many magazines not ‘flourishing’ are being shut down.
While VISI was not specifically under threat of closure, the past few years have been tough on all magazine titles and it was important that VISI‘s future be proactively protected against tough economic times. New Media believes it can do that. Both New Media and Media24 believe that VISI is a strong brand with a strong future and we’re proud of the place that VISI occupies in the South African landscape.
Has advertising for the publication taken a hit over the economic downturn, like so many titles?
We have had to work very hard at offering creative solutions for advertisers that go beyond the kind of traditional offering that may have been acceptable in years gone by. Budgets are no doubt smaller and decisions often take longer, but advertising sales figures on VISI have remained relatively stable. VISI offers a unique proposition for the right advertisers, but any magazine publisher will tell you that we have to work harder and harder for each advertising rand.
What other commercial challenges have confronted the magazine?
VISI‘s unique brand of editorial makes it a relatively expensive magazine to produce and advertising revenues and counter sales revenues do not necessarily keep up with the rising costs of production. This is a challenge that is certainly not unique to VISI.
What sort of changes to the business model will New Media be considering?
We would prefer not to discuss this just yet as we’re only in the beginning phase of discussions with the team around what the business model could and should look like.
Can you give a ballpark figure on how much it cost to buy the title from Media24?
We would prefer not to disclose.
Who will be on the ‘fresh thinking’ team? Any staff changes coming up?
Again, it is still too early to talk of staffing changes. We will be asking the entire team to assist with fresh thinking around the title especially editor Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly and the very experienced editorial director Sumien Brink. The broader New Media team will also be involved in planning the future of VISI including MD, Bridget McCarney, group content director Irna van Zyl and group account director Maria Tiganis and other skills can be brought in as and when needed.
VISI has won numerous awards locally and internationally, including multiple MPASA Pica Awards, a Silver Assegaai, a Loerie, and two Gold Ozzies, the prestigious award given at the Folio Awards in New York.