PPA Conference 2010: Bauer shifts away from ad-funded models for online brands

LONDON - Bauer Media, publisher of Heat, Grazia and Empire, is unlikely to invest in "pure advertising" funded models for its websites in the future, according to one of its senior digital executives.

Bauer's FHM.com website
Bauer's FHM.com website

Andrea Kilbourne, digital director of Bauer's lifestyle division and managing director of its mobile operations, said that future digital investments at Bauer "need to show revenue diversification".

Kilbourne, who oversees 13 of Bauer's websites including Heat and FHM, said the publisher needed to offer more commerce opportunities to its users and pointed to the example of its specialist weekly title, Motor Cycle News (MCN).

MCN offers users auxillary products including goods to purchase, insurance and price comparison sites. Sisters brands like FHM, Heat and Closer also offer auxiallary services to users but Kilbourne said they could do more.

Kilbourne was speaking on a panel which included David Prasher, sales director at Haymarket Media Group, publisher of Mediaweek.co.uk, and Michael Dell, managing director at IHS Janes, at the PPA annual conference.

The panel discussed a number of issues including advertising networks, paid-for-content, the role of consumer data, and the role of mobile in the fast-changing digital landscape.

Kilbourne said: "We started mobile six or seven years ago. It was really lucrative. But over the past two years revenue has been in decline. I think we have all been waiting for the re-birth of moblile."

But she added that there had a "breakthrough" in mobile with the arrival of iPhone apps.

She said that Bauer's future digital strategy would be centred on "a varetiy of different revenues" and that it would "not be investing in pure advertising model sites in the future".

The panel were also questioined on the use of the customer data it has acquired and whether there was a "big demand" for this from agencies and advertisers.

Not so, said Dell. Referring to the data, Dell said it was more use to IHS Jane's, which provides information on defence and national secutiry, to track users of its services.

Dell said: "We are more interested in the [data] for the  behaviour of our users and readers and their day-to-day activity."

There was some agreement across the model on News International's move to put its content behind a paywall.

Dell said: "I think the problem is that for more than ten years, consumers are used to their quality journalim for free. I am happy somebody else is taking the gamble."

Kilbourne said she hoped the move worked for News International adding the caveat that the publisher of The Times had little to lose.

She said: "This is low risk. They are massive sites. Even if they lost significant traffic, it is unlikely to damage its premium revnues."

More from the PPA Conference

Publishers warned 'Apple expect to make money off our backs'

Future chief says magazines will become 'collectable artefacts'

Publishers divided over value of UGC

GNM leader charts the erosion of magazines

Publishers struggling to generate revenue from apps

Facebook executive admits site's privacy failings

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