Tag Archives: conference

Let’s go back to the 90’s…

A quick story (please bear with me here  friends…)

Imagine it is 1997

Back in 1997 I was running a small marketing team for a global B2B publishing company.

We were developing online versions of our print publications & starting to experiment further with e-mail marketing.

Web sites were very unsophisticated – tending to be little more than facsimile versions of our magazines. There was very little interaction with readers and we really treated the Internet just as a distribution channel rather than a great disruptor of business models.

We had little idea of the emerging advertising/sponsorship models. Pricing decisions were agreed without any science or bundled in with physical products. User data was rarely gathered or intelligently used.

Remind you of anything?

Let’s fast-forward to today. We have a new and fast growing development in media consumption. The mobile web.

With the increasing penetration of smartphones, tablets, eReaders, apps and mobile enabled websites, all the rules are changing again.

Media companies are facing the same challenges that they faced in the 90’s and I know from personal experience that many are going to be taken by surprise by the speed at which things are moving.

All too often significant decisions about mobile are being left to tech teams or rushed into as part of a ‘me too’ stampede to get a press release out about ‘our latest app’.

STOP. You need to spend some proper time setting your mobile strategy..

Rob Grimshaw, the Managing Director of the FT’s digital operations said recently that he expected 50% of the FT’s digital readers to access content via a mobile device within the next 2 years.

That’s a fundamental shift in consumption habits and really shows that the mobile web has arrived.

The commercial realities associated with this shift in consumption mean that everyone in media needs to be involved in mobile product development – tech; marketing; sales and content creators.

Set the right strategy. Right now.

On June 14th The Media Briefing will be holding our second major conference.

Mobile Media Strategies takes place at The King’s Fund in London’s West End and will hear from some of the most innovative companies in the mobile field.

Companies including: Thomson Reuters * BBC Magazines * Guardian News & Media * The Economist * Incisive Media * Telegraph Media Group * Screen Digest * comScore * Microsoft * YUDU Media * Bonnier * DK Books * BSkyB * ImpulsePay & MobileTech.

There’s a fantastic line up of attendees already confirmed (here’s a link to our advance delegate list) & we have limited places still available.

Register today

The mobile media marketplace is developing so quickly. There are huge opportunities for the companies that can stay ahead of the curve. Register for Mobile Media Strategies today and we’ll help you on your way.


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SIPA Website Conversion Secrets from the Experts workshop – Monday April 19th, London

I wanted to give a quick plug for a Specialised Information Publishers Association (SIPA) event that I will be hosting in London on Monday April 19th.

This half-day workshop is designed to give publishers a range of practical tips on how to get their websites to convert better – whether that be registrations, subscriptions or e-commerce. We’ve got a great line up including:

  • Graham MacFadyen of the Financial Times, who will explain how the FT maintains its astonishing conversion rate for trialists. You’ll get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how their marketers transition occasional readers to registered readers, and then paid subscribers
  • Karl Blanks, co-founder of Conversion Rate Experts, will explain the specific strategies you can implement straight away to increase profit from your website visitors, and show the power of video in converting visitors to customers
  • Daniel Rowles at Art Review and Graham Ruddick from NEC Group on the key stats you need to monitor on your analytics reports to segment your customers and improve your conversion rates
  • Simon Nixon and Jason Buck at Econsultancy how to design your website with your user in mind to increase conversion and ROI
  • Jon Bentley of Incisive Media will explain the methods Incisive are using to successfully up sell and cross-sell their website customers
  • Angus Phillipson from WORKSsitebuilder will draw all the strands of the morning together, using practical case studies from his experience as both a publisher and a supplier

For a full programme and biographies of our knowledgeable speakers, click here.

Companies sending delegates include the following: BNA International * Business Monitor International * CityWire Holdings * CRU Group * Electric Word plc * Euromoney Institutional Investor * Global Water Intelligence * Guardian News & Media * Incisive Media * LexisNexis * Melcrum Publishing * Newsquest Specialist Media * Report Buyer

We only have 8 places left, so if you want to come please e-mail Karen Hindle as soon as possible.

The workshop will take place on Monday 19 April between 09.30 and 13.00, followed by a complimentary networking lunch.

The venue is the Novotel London Tower Bridge, Pepys Street, London EC3N 2NR. Price for SIPA members: £147 + VAT; non-members £247 + VAT.

Book your place today – call Karen on 020 8288 7415, or email: uksipa@btconnect.com.

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Highlights from SIPA’s Online Marketing and Publishing Summit last week

Last Thursday the Specialised Information Publishers Association held a one day event in London. I have been involved with this association in various guises for nearly 15 years but can honestly say this was one of my favourite meetings during that time. Well done to Louise White and Karen Hindle for organising & many thanks to all our speakers.

For those who couldn’t make it I wanted to highlight some of the key things I took from the day:

David Cushman‘s keynote “A New Era for Specialist Media” – David has posted his presentation online so you can read it for yourself. However, the main angle I took from this was that in a networked world new media models need to be developed to take advantage of peer-to-peer communication. Specialist and niche media owners were best placed to do this by creating ‘social objects’ around their content that tracked the downstream journey of conversations and any eventual purchase. No-one really had an idea how this would be done (!) but it started the conversation off nicely which I always believe is the sign of a great keynote.

Julian Turner then spoke about “Traffic and Jam on the Digital Highway – The real experience of online migration” – Julian gave an overview of his experience building Electric Word (a specialist B2B & B2C media company). Julian’s presentation started off by discussing how one of the big problems with an evolving media world was the words that were used. He referenced this great interview with Chris Anderson for Spiegel magazine and pointed to the way that terms like content and advertising were changing in a digital media world. Neil Thackray has already provided a good write-up of some of the themes covered.

From this point the conference split into round table format. Feedback from previous SIPA events has always shown these to be the most popular and I agree. The only problem with tracks of round tables is that you cannot attend them all. These are the ones I did attend:

Dominic Jacquesson (Ink on Dead Trees) and Ed Coburn (Harvard Health Publishing) hosted a session on “Digital Publishing: E-Readers, iPhone Apps and Beyond“. In reality we spent most of the time testing out different models of e-readers and assessing the likely winners in the e-reader / tablet / expanded iPhone style smart phone battles. The general conclusions the group came to was that e-readers had a place in specialist publishing. The inevitable move would be away from proprietary operating systems (like Amazon’s Kindle) and into an open source environment and they were well suited for academic textbooks and some form of networking to share notes. However, the big problem our group highlighted was the difficulty of delivering video and other forms of multi-media content. This is why the consensus was that we would see further technology advances and media convergence around smart phones and tablet computers.

After lunch Louise White (Incisive Media) and Vicky Priest (Emap Inform) ran through a couple of case studies on “Transitioning Products from Print to Online“. Both of our hosts were very open about the problems facing print products and shared some frightening graphs on readership and renewal rates for subscriptions. They then described projects within their companies to turn things around. Incisive Media’s project involved taking a range of newsletters and a controlled circulation magazine, bundling them up online and re-packaging the resulting portal as a site licence product. Louise highlighted some of the changes internally that this had driven and encouraged the attendees to think ‘beyond publisher’s own brands’. She said that in the past online efforts at the company had very much focused on taking a print brand and translating that content to a website format. This was the problem. Incisive’s focus was now on building new online subscription offerings – that were increasingly workflow or tool based – and offering them on a one-to-many rather than a one-to-one basis.

Vicky then gave a similar case study of the evolving Broadcast magazine subscription offering. In research the Emap Inform team had found that the a relatively neglected part of their content – the commissioning database – was highly valued by their readers. The problem was that this had never really been built as an interactive product and the information was presented by the magazine website at the wrong time of week. Vicky highlighted a process of reader panels undertaken with the editors that had led to the creation of a new service and a decision to offer this database exclusively to subscribers when the subscription pay wall was reintroduced online. The initial results had been positive but we had a long debate about whether Emap would have been better off launching this as a new and standalone product.

The final session I attended was the smallest of the round tables but was one of the most interesting. We looked at some case studies from SIPA publishing award winners to discuss what had led to the success of various projects within member firms.

First up was Emma Rogers (Electric Word) who discussed the launch of a new and best-selling text-book series for schools. Emma highlighted a new piece of educational policy that was being introduced covering Primary Assemblies for SEAL. Emma explained how an original concept had been brought to market very rapidly with a conference and fast follow-up on a range of books. These had gone on to become record sellers within the Electric Word portfolio and one of the key points Emma made was about how to benchmark and spot the winners in your business at an early stage and push resources at them.

Emma was followed by Andy Williams (Informa Pharma) who described a campaign to capitalise on the interest in swine flu to drive trials and customers to the company’s ScripNews service. Andy highlighted how his team had pulled together a range of content from a variety of internal and external sources to create a ‘swine flu portal’. The team had created mash-ups of data presented on Google maps to geographically represent the spread of outbreaks and showed how, if you are quick, a specialist publisher could utilise a wide range of new media tools to drive a new audience to their sites.

At the wrap up for the day we discussed how specialist publishing was clearly at a tipping point. It was significant that a lot of the things that seemed to be holding back the development of the sector were due to legacy issues and often the need to protect an out-dated business model.

I suppose if I were to take away one thing from the day it was that specialist publishers are in the driving seat for the evolution of media markets. However, we must be brave. Wherever possible we must not be restricted by the language and models of the past.

[The Specialised Information Publishers Association (SIPA) is a US-based organisation that evolved from the old newsletter publishing businesses. Our members are generally grounded in the provision of paid for information services through a variety of channels. The UK branch of the association hosts a range of conferences, training courses and networking sessions. If your company is involved in this area and you would like further details on membership then please visit http://sipaonline.com/sipauk]


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Developing mobile apps, monetising social media, models for paid content, e-readers… and more



If you work in specialist consumer or business media markets I am sure you have a list of new ideas that you think might present good opportunities for the development of your business.

I’d be happy to wager that at least one of the following topics was on that list:

  • How can I build up a community around my brands and where’s the payback for my time?
  • What extra information should I be collecting from my readers – and what should I then do with that data?
  • Can I develop mobile applications for some of my products?
  • What part of my marketing process can I automate – including setting up a series of trigger e-mails?
  • If e-Readers gain mainstream acceptance does this open up a new distribution channel for my content?
  • As I develop new content offerings what is the best model to pursue in a digital world – free, freemium or paid?
Paid digital content

Paid digital content

The problem is that a lot of these areas work around technological change and the business models are just evolving.

But if you have one day free on November 19th and can get to London then I have a solution.

The Specialist Information Publishers Association’s next Online Publishing and Marketing Summit takes a different format to most media events. Alongside some great formal presentations there is a twin track programme of roundtable discussions led by media industry leaders.

The programme features speakers from both the UK & the US including representatives from: Incisive Media, Electric Word, Euromoney, Ink on Dead Trees, eConsultancy, Brando Social, Silverpop, Canonbury Publishing, Harvard Health, Emap Inform, Melcrum Publishing, Qube Media and Informa Pharma. The day will be hosted by my ex-coleague and all round good egg, Louise White.

Mobile apps

Mobile apps

If you’re a SIPA member you can register at a discount rate of £270 if you do so before the end of October. It’s £350 for non-members (but ask about how to join and benefit from the member rates).

Numbers will be limited to ensure that the roundtable sessions are manageable.

Full programme details can be found here. I hope you’ll be able to join us.

If you have any queries drop me a note in the comments section below (I am a SIPA board member) or contact Karen Hindle


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SIPA online marketing event tomorrow, 24th March, London

Another quick plug for a great SIPA event in London tomorrow. 

Full programme.

Come along – there are still a few places free.

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Surviving and thriving in recession – Feb 24th, London

A quick plug for an event which SIPA are hosting at the end of Feb in London.

There are lots of these type of events around at the moment but this will actively focus on the specialist media community. 

It is designed to be very interactive and limited to 20 participants. Hosted by Robin Crumby of Melcrum Publishing. Details here.

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