New Zealand's Tangible Media looks to commercialize engaged communities of Super Consumers worldwide

BACKGROUND

If one were to list the greatest challenges facing the publishing industry today, remaining relevant in a world where technology advancements are rapidly reshaping societies and economies, would have to be close to the top of that list.

Driven mostly by millennials who are expected to control US $2.45 trillion of purchasing power globally this year, the world is moving from a knowledge-based economy to a passion-based one. Engaging with these digital natives has been a challenge for many publishers who don’t understand that quality content is not enough; they need to invest in communities and commerce to captivate them.

New Zealand is a unique country known for innovative thinking and Tangible Media represents its homeland well. Part of the country’s largest independent marketing communications company, ICG, Tangible “gets” the importance of engaging with “people”, as opposed with “a people”. They recognize that demographics don’t deliver dollars; passions are what propel people to pay for unique content experiences.

Vertically integrated and multi-channel, Tangible Media’s capabilities run the gamut of content creation and publishing to digital media, video production and experiential. Their brands include: Dish, Good, Habitat, Little Treasures, Living Well, Toast, NZ Fishing World, Idealog, New Zealand Weddings, NZ Marketing and NZ Retail; respective print and digital properties and numerous events.

 

“Commercializing engaged communities” is Tangible’s passion, which it exemplifies through its relentless commitment to engagement, originality and relevance across all the disciplines required for journalistically-lead content creation.

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

According to consumer media publisher and director of content marketing, John Baker, Tangible hasn’t seen itself as a magazine company for quite some time; the company sees itself as a diversified media business.

 

“Producing magazines is just one of the products that we deliver to customers,” said Baker. “As a specialist media company we need to leverage the deep relationships we have with our audiences in different ways and monetize those relationships. Imagining and creating new ways of doing that is our biggest challenge. Having said that, I think we’ve been quite successful at it.”

 

While most media companies look to aggregate audiences based on scale, Tangible takes more of a vertical view of the market, focusing on building communities of interest based on people’s passions, not on age, gender, occupation, geography, etc.

This not only differentiates Tangible in the marketplace, it gives them more opportunities to exploit the value of what The Cam- bridge Group calls the Super Consumer – passionate people that drive 60% of a brand’s pro ts. Super Consumers are:

• Emotionally-engaged with specific product categories
• Open to experimentation and innovation (i.e. early adopters)
• Well-informed and involved
• Active on social media
• Influential trendsetters

THE PLAN

Developing multiple touch points with these powerhouses through digital, social, print and experiential is where Tangible sees the biggest bang for its buck. And it’s what driving them to look for more ways to maximize engagement and pro ts with Super Consumers wherever they are, on whatever platform they choose.

The first step in connecting with more Super Consumers is to achieve global reach with Tangible’s digital brands. Tangible did that by distributing its content on Zinio and partnering with PressReader to extend its brand reach to 250+ million people who enjoy sponsored access to all-you-can-read PressReader titles in a growing list of over 6,000 hotels, 16,000 libraries and with airlines, airports, cruise ships and cafés around the world.

When Tangible added its titles to PressReader, the publishers’ content reach went from 4.5 million New Zealanders to the four corners of the globe, making it borderless, searchable, sharable and magnetizable.

 

“Although no one has yet been able to fully replicate the retail footprint online, digital magazine channels do attract consumers, so we need to be there,” shared Baker. “PressReader is driven and smart about connecting with consumers wherever they are, through thousands of global businesses and across all platforms. In our opinion that is a key differentiator to other providers.”

 

According to PressReader’s chief content officer, Nikolay Malyarov, Tangible’s focus on readers’ passions ts perfectly with PressReader’s crowd-curated approach to content discovery. “To maximize discoverability and revenue potential, a publisher’s content must be friction-less; it must also be everywhere its readers are, in whatever format they choose. At PressReader we facilitate friction- less discovery of Tangible’s content through an aggregated distribution model with multiple presentation formats organised by readers’ interests and the interests of like-minded people.”

A couple of years ago, Tangible partnered with Oomph when it recognized opportunities to capitalize on the rise of tablet adoption. According to Baker, “When we went with Oomph it was based on the belief that interactivity, enhanced content and creating a more web-like experience was going to be something that consumers would value.

Dish already had an international audience for the physical and digital content and many readers from the US and Australia were on iOS devices. “So we were comfortable with an iOS-only solution from Oomph. Their iPad platform was very good, and they gave us the tools to create interactive versions of our titles with some specific functionality for Dish fans. We created what I think was a great product and had reasonable uptake in terms of sales.”

However, the amount of time and investment it took Tangible to create each issue of the magazine was much greater than the re- turns they were getting from an audience point of view. The volume they delivered was good but it wasn’t enough to properly commercialize it.

In addition, the explosive growth of tablet adoption beyond Apple in New Zealand had Tangible management re-evaluating its decision to go iOS-only; it decided to start looking for a fully cross-platform technology that:

• Was more cost-effective than the iOS-only Oomph solution
• Created innovative branded apps for all app stores (Apple, Google Play, etc.)
• Offered complete portability and a faster time to market

So, after evaluating all the options, Tangible Media chose PressReader for its new branded apps, in addition to being part of PressReader’s all-access publication platform.

 

“Along with meeting the technology requirements, a key influence in our decision to run with the PressReader platform was that PressReader management came and met with us personally,” said Baker. “They were interested in our business and came up with solutions that reflected what we were looking for. We felt like we were dealing with the people who were actually providing the solution rather than third parties or intermediaries who really didn’t represent the business directly. PressReader’s personal touch really differentiated it from everyone else.”

 

Looking globally at the power of content marketing for brands, Tangible is ahead of the curve in terms of recognizing an opportunity to position itself strategically in a growing market outside of traditional magazine publishing. And while the rest of the magazine world chases digital advertising dimes, Tangible continues to look for new ways to commercialise engaged communities. Five years ago traditional advertising revenue would have represented 60 to 70 percent of Tangible’s revenue; it now accounts for only 30 or 35 percent.

 

“Tangible is focused on building and monetizing one-to-one relationships with consumers based around something that they are really passionate about,” said Baker. “So we tend to put a large amount of emphasis on our subscriber relationships and the data that surrounds them. If you can link an editorial proposition within a product or market category where there is commerce taking place, where there is a definite relationship between something that people are passionate about and how they spend their money, you’ve got yourself a successful diversified media business.”

 

In September 2015, Tangible Media’s cross-platform branded apps built with PressReader Technology started rolling out with plans already in place to augment them with commercialize-able related digital brand properties. Tangible retains very strong engagement with consumers through social, digital and physical products, but the company is not stopping there. Expect to see more innovative products introduced in the near future.