Successfully transforming a print legacy operation into a thriving multimedia business whose objective is to give their audience the best content for them, where and when they want it is the aim of most media houses. How to do it is another thing entirely.
Jason Orme, editorial director at Centaur Media UK (Home Interest) is responsible for content across Centaur’s three key brands, Homebuilding & Renovating, Real Homes and Period Living, across print, live and digital platforms. Orme has successfully transformed the print legacy operation into a thriving multimedia business whose objective is to give their audience the best content for them, where and when they want it.
He was in South Africa recently to address the Media24 Lifestyle summit on solutions for content in the digital age and summarised the key challenges publishers currently face:
- A legacy print operation with digital bolted on (print business, processes inherited from print, including staff and freelance resources still dominate)
- Misinformation and lack of science
- Content as a cost: Reduced investment in journalism
- Editors who understand print and want to generalise to boost copy sales, the opposite of the digital best practice
- The Climate: content shock; disintermediation (brands and advertisers becoming content creators); bold, digital start-ups offering satisfaction in our space
- Hurdles: Held back by lack of technical mastery and timidity of large corporate culture
“However the good news is that we can turn our legacy into a positive – we have a good head start with our brands and audiences. Not only do we have an audience, but we have also built up a lot of data about that audience. And we have twenty five years of positive brand reputation to bring to the game,” said Orme.
Orme and his team embarked on setting out a new vision for the business. Most important is quality content, understanding the opportunity around the audience needs and putting the audience first.
“It’s important to get out and meet the audience. At Centaur we specialise in hosting live events which is a great opportunity for us to engage with our audience and find out what they want, along with the enormous amount of audience data available to us,” said Orme.
Orme recommends the site as a service model using a customer service approach. “We’re fortunate at Homebuilding to have ‘lived the brand’ and we have a huge amount of expertise in this area. As an editor I’ve built houses and renovated homes. It’s important to become an expert in your field because that’s something that no amount of data can ever replicate,” he said.
Orme uses the example of home insurance when referring to the site as a service model. Every home builder requires home insurance and the dedicated page on their website was pulling large amounts of traffic, but revenues were streaming elsewhere, to the insurance companies.
Direct revenue stream
Instead of sending the readers somewhere else to buy insurance, it made financial sense for the magazine to partner with a home insurance company and they now sell a range of their own building and renovating home insurance products as a direct revenue stream.
Centaur has successfully developed niche communities around their online offering, with the brand website becoming a portal destination. Mobile is key and the latest statistics show that 41% of the Homebuilding audience was consuming their content on smartphones.
Video crews are now working in the newsroom with the content teams across all brands as video is expected to make up two thirds of all digital content consumption by the end of 2017.
Integrating technical development and content is key and Centaur now has developers and engineers embedded in the content teams.
Their content strategy has seen a huge reduction in freelance costs through DAM (Digital Asset Management), which makes better use of their existing archive of images and content, created over the last 25 years.
Commercial content opportunities
The company is exploiting commercial content opportunities, producing case studies and partnering with relevant brands.
Content teams are now incentivised through interaction editing using metrics like page views, eyeball counts and comments. Centaur has introduced bonuses to incentivise editors and journalists, effectively connecting the content teams with commercial impressions.
Centaur created feedback loops in the content planning process. Individuals are now responsible for content from the genesis of the idea right through to the success of it, and they are responsible for feeding back to the editors.
Teams are also tasked with developing new content and revenue streams such as white papers, tools and insight guides.
“A lot of problems that companies are experiencing in a very changed media environment is that they are still working on outdated systems that are tweaked, rather than fundamentally reviewed and changed,” said Orme.
Fundamental staff changes
Centaur made some fundamental changes around staffing. They created a content lab to manage knowledge and skills that ensures that all editors and content teams are able create compelling content across every platform.
Job descriptions, roles and team structures were changed to include young digital instigators on every team. Budgets were rejigged and money was reallocated from freelance budgets to invest in a new video production crew.
Orme introduced new workflow processes – changing the print process where each department has a task force and finds time for digital as an add-on, to a single ownership model, blogging style workflow.
Centaur has achieved tremendous success with their multimedia initiatives. Year on year they have added 120 000 users to their websites, with an average dwell time of 3 minutes per user and generating £1.5m+ revenue a year for the company. A new Homebuilding TV channel is about to launch online giving their audience access to more industry expertise and giving their advertisers more opportunities for content marketing.
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