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Isobel McKenzie Price is Editorial Director of IPC Media's Homes Network, which includes print titles such as Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and their online counterparts, as well as decorating portal housetohome.co.uk

I've been talking to Isobel about the cross-over between working on print and online titles, how magazines can use the internet,  and the challenge of monetising content online. 

Can you give me some background on the Homes Network in terms of print circulation and online readership? 

Currently IPC’s Homes Network reaches 700,000 unique users and has over 8m page impressions each month, according to Omniture statistics. The websites in the group include standalone portal site housetohome.co.uk; magazine brand spin-off sites  idealhomemagazine.co.uk, livingetc.co.uk and homesandgardens.com, plus the housetohome.co.uk Retailer Directory.

IPC’s print titles sell 531,454 copies each month and have a readership of  2,757,000. 

How does your online offering fit in with the magazines? Do you put all the magazine content online? 

We plan our content to be web search relevant, rather than simply putting magazine content up ad hoc. We do put some content from our print brands online, but we always repurposed it for online usage; readers/users want to access information differently online from offline.

Increasingly, we’re producing online-only content, for example we create videos, interactive quizzes, picture galleries that are searchable, etc.

What does your team look like? Do you separate the online and offline teams? What works best for you? 

We have a core web-only team that manages all sites in the homes network, but we also have individual print-team journalists from each of our magazines who contribute to individual sites and the network as a whole.

We have a wealth of expertise in our print teams, and the trick is to enable them to bring their skills and creativity online by making our systems as easy as possible for non-digital journalists to use.

We’ve eased a lot of teams online by encouraging them to set up blogs where they can hone their web-editing skills before venturing onto the network itself. We have a great culture within our homes brands of working as a single group, which has made the print/digital transition pretty seamless.

What are the major challenges involved in working on both print and digital titles? 

Getting the teams to understand each other’s requirements. That goes across everything from working to totally different lead times (from three months on a magazine to three hours online); writing styles, SEO, photo-editing and more.

There’s much more of a hierarchy approval structure in print, for example – online, you just put content up much faster and with less control from a single editor. It’s scary but if you have trust, it’s achievable.

How do you monetise your online content? Is this something that is  easier to do as a niche publisher? 

Currently we don't charge directly for content. It is difficult to do this if it is content that is freely available elsewhere on the web.

We prefer to engage our customers with our compelling online offering and then allow advertisers in turn to communicate with this engaged and premium customer when he/she is in the right frame of mind. We lead the market in homes, and we know our users are a valuable group for specific advertisers who can target their campaigns at the right people at the right time.

Which monetisation strategies have worked best for you? 

Advertising remains key source of income although advertisers want to have integrated concepts that engage readers with their brands. 

In particular, cross-media (magazine and online) is attractive for advertisers in the homes market and is something that we can offer across a variety of brands. 

In terms of other (non-advertising) revenues, we're always looking to expand these and we have some affiliate deals and run our own homes-related shops

What is your view on the Times paywall? 

We haven't charged for online content, but we do believe consumers would be prepared to pay for an application that does something for them, rather than just content. 

How should magazines be approaching the internet when it comes to their overall strategies? 

They should see it as a platform for their content, although this platform has its own rules and content needs to be the right information in the right format delivered at the right time etc.

Don't see it as a competitor to the magazine; there is a lot of valuable cross-fertilisation going on, such as people getting to know the magazines through the web, subscribing online to print or digital editions etc.

Given the much reported decline of print media, is going all-digital something you would look at in future? 

I’m not sure Time inc – IPC’s parent company - would agree with the idea that print is in an 'unstoppable decline’! Magazine readership has actually grown over the past five years.

I do think traditional media has been set a challenge and given a wake-up call that it can’t be complacent about owning audiences in the way it used to through a single touchpoint.

Consumers now want their content delivered how and when they want it - online, on paper, on mobile, though IPTV… Each medium has to be excellent, innovative and fresh; I don’t think homes online spells the death of homes print. That said, we might consider launching a stand-alone digital offering for some very specific niche, if it was the most cost-effective way to market.

Housetohome.co.uk is a web-only brand, and is as big as the aggregation of all our other homes websites.

Have you done anything around mobile?  The iPad and the e-reader, have been touted as potential saviours for publishers - how do you see this? Will you be planning apps / websites for the iPad and similar devices? 

We haven’t done anything with mobile yet – we’re still in a relatively early-adopter market in the UK. But I have spent a lot of time playing with the iPad, and watching people in the US who are similar to our core consumers engaging with their smartphones and iPads.

Currently, all of our homes titles are available as digital editions on the iPad via the Zinio newstand app, so we’ll see how that plays with our consumers. There’s clearly an interesting opportunity there, at some point.

Graham Charlton

Published 22 June, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (17)

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Clare

'I’m not sure Time inc – IPC’s parent company - would agree with the idea that print is in an 'unstoppable decline’!'

What a strange thing to say when IPC is currently in the process of trying to offload 28 of its niche titles to other titles with hundreds of staff (including my husband) not knowing if they'll have a job in three months time.

Pathetic!

over 6 years ago

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Johnnyboy

What's that supposed to mean? Titles to other titles? I think u mean they're tring to sell the titles to other publishers. It was in the Times. So what? Print magazines are dead. IPC is just gonna get rid of the deadbeats that don't know how to use a website.

over 6 years ago

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Clare

Thanks for that helpful comment

over 6 years ago

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Clare

My real point is that who ever did this interview is an idiot when he asks this woman a question about going all digital in the future and obvioulsy hasn't got a clue that IPC Media is obviously in the process of going all digital. Thenn he just accepts her answer without challenging here. She sounds like an idiot too, just repeating like a parrot what some one from Time Inc has told her. So she obvioulsy doesn't have a clue what's going on in the company she works for.

over 6 years ago

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Stuart

I wouldn't be too scathing of her comments...The facts are that print and in particular print subscription volume across IPC's core portfolio that she represents are up and have increased steadily over the last 2 years... The same cannot be said for print advertising. I think her point that IPC haven't yet come up with a viable proposition to monetise their web content outside of advertising is well made.. So for them at this time they cannot afford to go "all Digital" or for print to be dead...

over 6 years ago

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Nigel

Print is not 'dead'. Ridiculous comment. Certain sections of the public view everything online and on smart phones and assume everyone else is the same. Not so. According to The Office for National Statistics around 30% of the UK population still does not even have internet access at home, let alone an iPhone, so it will be years if not decades before print is 'dead.' People will always want something to read on the train or in an armchair on a sunday morning, and not everyone is so keen to gawp at a screen 24/7.

Having said that, print mags will of course decline in number and circulation over time as the web grows. IPC knows this and knows its brands need a strong web presence, but it has so many titles across so many markets that it can't afford to do this for all of them, so it is shedding a few titles so it can invest more in online development for those markets they decide to stay in.

As an IPC employee whose future is also in the balance this current uncertainty is worrying but if I was in charge I'd do exactly the same.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Clare - I'm well aware of the news around IPC and it was a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

over 6 years ago

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Cogan

 'Nigel, you are Evelyn Webster and I claim my prize!'  

over 6 years ago

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Steamship

Its not just deadbeat titles who do not know how to use websites, some of the specialist titles believed to be on the 'offload' list have excellent websites and digital penetration.

over 6 years ago

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sesli sohbet

What's that supposed to mean? Titles to other titles? I think u mean they're tring to sell the titles to other publishers. It was in the Times. So what? Print magazines are dead. IPC is just gonna get rid of the deadbeats that don't know how to use a website.

over 6 years ago

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Jon

Nope they are not just getting rid of the deadbeats. They are also offloading the first title in the company to get an online rich media magazine launched.

I think its more the fact they are getting rid of their niche market titles to better concentrate on their big main stream money makers.

over 6 years ago

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Calre

Yes, my husband just told me that Web User magazine has been sold and Railway magazine and Guitar magazine. We're just hoping it stops there.

over 6 years ago

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seslialmanya

Thank you Admin My Name Seslialmanya From Turkey Thanks

over 6 years ago

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seslisohbet

thank you

about 6 years ago

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Thomas

"I’m not sure Time inc – IPC’s parent company - would agree with the idea that print is in an 'unstoppable decline" – Isobel McKenzie Price, 22nd June 2010.

 "IPC looks like it's in a big hurry to divest itself of print brands and doesn't give a toss what happens to staff - or those brands - in the medium term." – Guardian Media, 21st September 2010.

about 6 years ago

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tupbebek

What's that supposed to mean? Titles to other titles? I think u mean they're tring to sell the titles to other publishers. It was in the Times. So what? Print magazines are dead. IPC is just gonna get rid of the deadbeats that don't know how to use a website.

over 5 years ago

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mark

as an ex employee of IPC in the homes market, i've seen the `adjustment `of ABC's in print media from afar (left over 7 years ago) having owned a digital company,there is no doubt that digital is the future.However, to achieve our success we relied upon using both digital platforms as well as more traditional ones i.e magazines, to get our brand message across to consumers. Good titles will survive in their current form albeit with smaller circulation figures. Price's views on the difference between digital and print are bang on the money. Each form compliments the other but should be treated as different entities. One smart cookie! IPC, appears to be embracing the change in consumer habits perhaps more readily than some other large publishers

about 5 years ago

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