At the Media Center conference, Fran Hauser, the general manager for Time Interactive, gave a talk on magazines, brands and the web focused on deciding when convergence makes sense.
I thought her points were worth sharing, both as an insight into how Time Interactive approaches their business and creative, and as a useful reference point for other media publishers.
Fran says that much of her job was to work with the magazine brands and vet or support their ideas. In that vein, she shared the question she asks editors when they have online ideas, or want to use new technology–Is this an appropriate way to extend the brand to a new media platform?
At Time Interactive, Fran gets requests to use the following tools:
- Database apps
- Mobile handhelds
She says: “A lot of what I do it talk to staff about whether a platform is on brand and whether there is an acceptable return to move a brand to a specific platform.”
One example of a project she greenlit was enabling InStyle.com to spend about $75,000 to shoot 30 minutes of fashion video for the fall. The shoot features 80 looks on the theme of what you can wear and what’s hot this fall, with merch provided by Macy’s, Target and The Gap.
The video is being cut up into 80 little clips that will live in a VOD database and be available for members to watch.
Of course, all the clothes are available for purchase.
Fran says “InStyle is branded runway to reality and this video is exactly that..plus, we found a sponsor for it.”
But, as Fran explains, she doesn’t greenlight everything. Parenting.com asked if they could do some instructional video; Fran said no way. “Parenting is about useful info to Mom on raising kids, “she explained. “So, what can you do better in video? Nothing–photo galleries and articles do enough.”
Similarily, Fran told Real Simple no RSS feeds–Although Fortune.com has them, Fran feels that RSS ” is a male, tech-savvy thing” so, Real Simple doesn’t have them–nor will the other women’s brands. (I disagree with that decision.)
One of the most interesting areas Fran discussed were Time Interactive mobile programs. Mobile is an emerging category, but the emphasis for many publishers would be on emerging. Fran said, ” Teens are big mobile consumers so we did a teen people mobile program with Ringtones, wallpaper and video. However, the most successful mobile program that we have done is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue downloads onto your phone–consumners paid for 500,000 images.”
Final words from Fran were lessons learned:
- Be judicious about using new technology platforms
- Does it fit the brand to extend to this platform?
- Is there a hole in the market for this new extension?
Susan sez: It’s always fascinating to hear someone in a decision-making role explain their choices. If I were the person dealing with these issues, I would approach it completely differently–I think the best questions for media brands are to ask–what tools and technologies are your current audience using and are you on par with those?– and then, most importantly–what tools and technologies are new audiences I want to acquire using–and shouldn’t I look at how those tools can help me get this new audience?