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Three key takeaways from the media leaders at Folio’s C-Summit

November 7, 2016 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

As part of its annual show October 31-November 2, Folio hosted a one day C-Summit. The invitation-only event focused on top strategic imperatives for magazine media organizations. Led by Hanley Wood CEO Peter Goldstone, the day provided an intimate conversation between panelists and attendees.

Here are three key takeaways from the discussion:

1. People matter (a lot): Many of the day’s speakers expressed that competitive recruiting and managing millennials to their fullest potential are significant challenges. Across the board, it was apparent that these leaders feel that having the right people to drive the organization from both strategic and tactical levels is a top priority.

“We need to teach all employees to think about the end game and how they can contribute Give them a voice, an opportunity to express ideas and concerns… We need to give them pride of ownership in solutions.”

—Bonnie Kintzer, CEO TMBI

“It used to be that the people in charge knew everything…Well, we’re in a learn-together mode now, particularly as we try to build new lines of business. Of the 46 people we have hired at AIM since January, 32 have job descriptions that didn’t exist before they were hired.”

—Andrew W. Clurman, President & CEO, Active Interest Media (AIM)

“The scariest thing is to have an opportunity but not have the capacity to deliver. For example, we find that companies want to connect with customers by feeding them, but staffing the event side has been a challenge… Creating the right culture is absolutely critical.”

—Catherine Neville, Publisher & Founder, Feast Magazine

“Running a media related company over the past 10 years has been a tough job. There are a lot of dead men walking. Employees are key to transforming business. You need to attract, retain, and develop people who will change your business or you will be one of those dead men walking.”

—Tom Kemp, Chairman CEO of Northstar Travel Group

2. Advertising is data and context driven: Digital advertising is increasingly driven by data—particularly in the B2B space, which is focused on lead-generation. However, context matters as does bigger-picture understanding of what the advertiser’s objectives are and how to creatively accomplish those goals.

“Advertisers are asking: What is the value you are going to give us, how are you going to bundle stuff? That said, they don’t always really know what they are asking. They want, and need you to know more about their biz than they do.”

—Jim Elliot, President James C. Elliot Co. Inc.

“We have to be sure we are producing products our customers want to buy, not just what we want to sell, so that we continue to have the relationship with them that supports the business. And yes, we need to be able to provide as much audience data as possible. We’re thinking less about selling advertising than selling all the assets we have.”

—Tom Kemp, Chairman CEO of Northstar Travel Group

“Programmatic is inevitable because it is a far more efficient for sellers and buyers. At Hanley Wood, we love programmatic because we have the data. What we’re seeing is a bifurcation in the value proposition between what publishers brought to the table—the value of our insight around the data and the audience—versus the value of the content and placing ads in context.”

—Peter Goldstone, CEO, Hanley Wood

“Thinking about some of the new players…yes, they are taking dollars away and disrupting things because they play by their own rules. But we must continue to behave in a way that is extremely responsible because of our brands’ reputations. We’ve been successful with our ad-sales guarantee. We’ve partnered with Nelsen to measure return on ad spend. We spend a lot of time on measurement and in our strategic partnerships. It is an area of emphasis and focus to demonstrate efficacy.”

—Mark Rothschild, SVP, Meredith Digital.

3. You’ve got to put your money where your progress is. Despite a seemingly endless desire to innovate, the reality is that resources are finite and making smart decisions about what to fuel and what to fold is critical.

“We have to focus on how to grow the business despite managing a mature print portfolio. There’s always a lot to do, but what do you choose not to do is just as important. As you think about your portfolio, resource allocation decisions are imperative.”

 —Peter Goldstone, CEO, Hanley Wood

“We looked at a lot of areas with underperforming assets, many outside the US, which we are in the process of selling. We are focused on being a strong US and Canadian content producer. The hardest parts are the print versus the digital pieces of the game.”

—Bonnie Kintzer, CEO TMBI

“There are lots of new shiny ideas that pop up in this industry. Yes, some are good…but others aren’t, and you have to be able to tell the difference, or figure it out fast.”

 —Jim Elliot, President James C. Elliot Co. Inc.

“As an industry, there’s a drag of products that need to close, that have served their purpose, but closing them creates an opportunity to start something new. And there’s always a new opportunity.”

—David Carey, President, Hearst Magazines

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