Interview with Natasha Christie-Miller, CEO of EMAP

SIIA, the software and information industries blog, has recently posted an interview with Natasha Christie-Miller, current CEO of EMAP, a major media company here in the UK that specializes in the publishing of B2B magazines. What’s particularly interesting about this interview is that she touches upon a number of hot-button issues key to both B2B and B2C magazines publishers who are attempting to monetize their digital offerings and the importance of diversifying your revenue streams.

Just to briefly illustrate Natasha’s history in the publishing industry:

Natasha built up her knowledge of the fashion media at iconic brands Elle and Red, transferring across to Drapers and Retail Week before adding the architecture, construction, health and government sectors to her portfolio. CEO of EMAP since 2010, she has a very clear vision of where she wants to take this long established media business.

As SIIA explains, one of the distinguishing features of EMAP has always been a subscription-led approach:

Unlike many print publishers, EMAP had always charged a cover price or subscription for its publications to its professional readers, whether health professionals, architects, engineers or public sector employees, so charging for digital content has never been such an alien concept.

This is a key concept in not just B2B publishing, but professional services/industry analysis publishing of any kind: Very specific, content-led publications with expert analysts working for them can always command a baseline subscription price because what they’re delivering is perceived to be of worth. This is, in my opinion, the real “big data” industry – Firms with the know-how to create and publish reports and analysis on everything from the market share of the tablet industry in Fiji on a year-on-year basis to the projected export of rare earths to Japan for the next decade. EMAP is targeting specific professional demographics with equally specific, expert-led information and content. Natasha confirms this when she talks about how the principles behind good B2B haven’t changed, merely the delivery methods:

Natasha believes that the essentials of good B2B content haven’t changed, even if the delivery mechanisms are now different. EMAP’s focus has always been on delivering sharp industry analysis and comment, and even their database-driven products include the expert view of their specialist editors.

In spite of EMAP’s diversified revenue streams (with a third coming from subscriptions, a third from live events and a third from advertising and creative solution), Natasha firmly believes the core is subscriptions, and all EMAP’s brands are now focused on offering a wide range of options.

Natasha goes on to explain how EMAP utilizes the new digital publishing environment to offer equally new and inventive forms of subscription:

For example, individual subscribers to Retail Week can opt for an “anytime anywhere” package with print, tablet and PC, a “home and office” package with print and desktop, or an “on the move” package with mobile and desktop. And organisations wanting to take out a company-wide subscription can put together a totally bespoke package with print copies, online logins and mobile licenses, topped up with newsletters and RSS feeds to suit their staff’s needs.

This is something we’ve spoken about before in the past, namely that traditional publishers still struggle with the question of how to properly bring digital and print subscriptions together, common questions include: “do we offer both as part of single package?”, “to what extent do we differentiate the product?”, “if we differentiate the product, how do we approach pricing digital and print offerings differently?”, and so on. EMAP have quite cleverly approached this issue by differentiating the product by platform (PC, tablet, physical etc.), which is useful primarily because it’s easy for consumers, even those who may have no experience with digital publications, to understand. Naturally, the enterprise option, with an implied totally bespoke approach, remains at the background, the terms of which are doubtlessly determined by discussion with EMAP’s sales team. B2B publishers would do well to echo this approach, targeting more bespoke offerings to enterprise customers so that smaller customers are not intimidated or confused.
The bottom line to this successful approach is reinforced by SIIA’s comments about how these methods have helped to grow revenue and profit:

EMAP is highly focused on broadening the base of its subscription business, and has recently grown corporate subscriptions from 5% to 10% of total revenue, with ambitions to drive this further, to 20% or more. Once their media brands are embedded in an organisation then they see renewal rates on corporate subs of up to 90%.

The interview concludes with a general assessment of EMAP’s successes in the digital space, alongside their plans for the future:

In the last two months, they have launched highly interactive tablet apps for HSJ and Retail Week, and are pleased with the response. These editions can be bought as a stand-alone or be part of a larger subscription package. Natasha plans to roll out dedicated tablet editions to other markets in the next year.

Natasha is delivering a keynote at the Digital Content & Media Summit (September 23rd-25th) organized by the SIIA this year, for more information on how to sign up, see the link below:

Categories: Industry Research

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