To make the most of its digital audience’s preference for "connected devices", media group Future no longer operates as a publisher but as a content creator.
So said its chief executive officer Zillah Byng-Maddick, speaking at the Association of Online Publishers Autumn Conference today.
“We are increasingly changing the way in which we consume content on the internet which means that our devices are becoming increasingly connected,” she said in her keynote speech.
“At Future, controversially, we no longer consider ourselves to be publishers. Instead we are creators of content, we create content that connects.”
She said the number of people who accessed content on a tablet, for example, has increased from just four per cent of the audience three years ago to around a 25 per cent at present.
And as more people use multiple devices at the same time, like using a smartphone or a tablet while watching TV, these devices were “genuinely connected”.
“What this means is that if that content isn't accessible in these formats, we're missing opportunities to engage with our consumers and learn from them about what they need,” she said.
Working with connected devices was not a problem, she said, but an opportunity. She referred to a quote from beloved fictional pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, saying "the problem is not the problem, but your attitude towards the problem".
“Some publishers, they ignore connected devices, and instead argue the merits of one platform versus another,” she said. “They spend lots of money creating exactly the same content only in multiple formats.”
But publishers should be aware the audience does not “behave” the same way when accessing content on different devices. Starting to think about content that can work across all devices in a “meaningful way” was an "exciting opportunity," she said.
Byng-Maddick said Future plc has half a million daily users across digital devices, a circulation of half a million for its print titles, and a “social audience in excess of 20 million”.
“We have lots of audience, lots of content, and lots of devices,” she said, adding that she also saw YouTube “largely as another device”.
Future’s T3 Awards and The Photography Show were brought up to exemplify how the content experience could be extended outside the web or the pages of a magazine.
“We view experiences as being as important a device for our content as the PC or a magazine," said Byng-Maddick.
Understanding how the audience interacts with Future’s output – the “user journey” – and creating content which connects across devices means the media organisation has created its own “virtuous circle", she said.
And gaming is one of the core parts of Future’s business, which includes the PC Gamer and GamesRadar brands, so gaming was “at the heart” of this idea, she said.
“Gamers largely want to learn how to do what they love better... cheaper, so we create content which enables that,” said Byng-Maddick.
“Experiential events feel like largely the way the gaming community is going."