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Lessons from PPA CEO Forum

Revenues from e-commerce transactions and audience data will be key for magazine publishers to offset the pressure on traditional advertising models, delegates at the PPA CEO Forum heard this week.

Arnaud de Puyfontaine (pictured), chief executive of the National Magazine Company, said publishers need to play a greater role in transactions between readers and advertisers, and focus on audience data to safeguard revenue growth as the economy emerges from recession.

Mr de Puyfontaine forecast that revenues based on the print magazine advertising model would increase as markets returned to growth, but that they would be lower on a like-for-like basis.

“The rules of the game are going to be different,” he said. “Every incumbent in the sector, every magazine publisher, will have to think about how to diversify revenues.”

The comments were made during a panel debate chaired by former Spectator editor Matthew d’Ancona at the PPA CEO Forum, which was held at The Roof Gardens in Kensington, London on November 11.

As well as de Puyfontaine, the panel featured Jonathan Allan, managing director of OMD UK; Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital and an investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den Online; and Graham Stuart, Conservative MP and chairman of CSL Publishing.

The debate considered the challenges magazine publishers are currently facing and the threats and opportunities posed by digital media. The panel agreed that the growth of Google and social networking had created an emphasis on response-based advertising.

Meyer argued that increasing value had been placed on consumers’ personal data and that magazine publishers had an opportunity to support them in “regaining some of that value”. She added that the accelerated ‘Darwinian’ evolution of consumer habits had placed critical importance on adapting to change, saying: “The brands of media companies that don’t engage become irrelevant.”

Allan reinforced the importance of a publisher's role in providing access to audience information. He said: “Advertisers and agencies want access to data. The more data you can understand about a consumer the more ad revenues you can drive into the business.”

Stuart said print magazines would have to continue to drive out costs while embracing market changes. He said: “We need to adapt to new models. The paper publishing fish need to learn to walk on dry land or they won’t survive.”

Mr de Puyfontaine said investment in training was a priority to support staff in the transition to working across print and digital platforms.

He said: “When you’ve got solid brands, for those with the right leadership and dedication to change, there is a future and solid business models going forward.”

About PPA

The PPA says: “PPA protects and promotes the interests of publishers and providers of consumer, customer and business media in the UK. PPA has almost 300 publishing companies in its membership, which collectively publish more than 2,500 consumer, customer and business magazines, as well as directories, websites and events.”