SXSW 2012 Q&A: Keith Barraclough

Matt Geraghty   February 24, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: In this week’s SXSW Q&A, we talk with Keith Barraclough, Next Issue Media CTO and moderator of the panel Digital vs. Print: Storyboard to Digital Delivery Panelists from Condé Nast, Hearst, Time Inc. and Meredith will explore the current state of the digital magazine including the process behind creating customized digital content and configuring this content for delivery across multiple mobile devices.

S/G: How does a publisher’s approach to content need to be rethought to be multi-channel and cross platform?

Keith: As we help the magazine industry reinvent itself in the tablet and digital age there are four significant areas of opportunity we see:

  1. Personalization of the magazine experience by leveraging an understanding of the customer through data
  2. Reader engagement through interactive content and smart in-magazine search
  3. Workflow improvements to help create the best digital magazine experience cost effectively
  4. Incremental growth around e-commerce and new advertising models

The magazine and offer must become personalized.  The consumer will expect magazines, bundles and offers that intelligently understand their interests through reader/machine learning and smarter storefronts.

When it comes to reader engagement, the publishers are now dealing with measurable activities.  With these new abilities the publishers can drive their business and brands through a detailed understanding of end user engagement.

To achieve scale and profitability, publishers need to work with efficient industry standard tools, platforms and workflows.  Efficient uniform processes will help  creative content be delivered quickly allowing resources to focus on the editorial content as opposed to the creation and delivery mechanisms.

The creation of content that can be used across multiple screen formats is critical.  This includes all the variables of size, resolution and aspect ratio.  HTML5 and other dynamic content delivery mechanisms will need to be apart of this mix as we address all the different consumption devices.

S/G: What type of new opportunities have arisen for magazine publishers to bring advertisers into the digital space?

Keith: The same incentives exist for advertisers as they do for consumers to migrate from print to digital: convenience and instant gratification.  In digital, consumers can now instantly begin reading content from the latest issue of their favorite magazines. Along the same lines, advertisers can now develop tablet-specific ads that link directly to their e-commerce mobile sites.  New analytics tools can measure click-through rates and purchase statistics with the same immediacy consumers enjoy.

Reader demand for more streamlined e-commerce via digital magazines is another incentive.  GfK MRI’s iPanel, a special survey group composed of tablet and e-reader owners, reported that 70% of tablet owners who read digital magazines on their devices said they would like to be able to buy items simply by clicking on ads in the digital magazines. Almost as many — 67% — said they would like to see ads in digital magazines that are personalized to address their interests.

S/G: What are users saying about how they want to interact with and experience magazines in the digital realm?

Keith: Consumers continue to crave quality content from brands they trust. However, there are a number of user pain points with current digital offerings and aggregator apps that publishers will have to address as they continue the migration from print to digital platforms.  Currently, we hear consumers want consistency in title navigation, level of interactivity, quality, downloading and purchasing.  They also want a way to bundle their print subscriptions with digital formats, automatic downloads of the latest digital issue, and additional content exclusive to digital editions.

At Next Issue, we deliver the greatest titles while addressing all of these known pain points.  Expect to see a major upgrade to Next Issue in the Spring.

S/G: Tell us about your panelists, why they were picked and what they’ll be bringing to the discussion?

Keith: Panelists include Liz Schimel, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at Meredith, Joe Simon, Chief Technology Officer at Condé Nast, Perry Solomon, VP, Digital Business Development for Time Inc., and Chris Wilkes, VP, App Lab for Hearst Magazines.

In addition to being key members of the executive teams at each of Next Issue Media’s publishing partners, all the panelists are digital pioneers in their own right.

Each panelist will be revealing information about their individual company’s current digital initiatives as well as insights on the direction of the digital publishing industry as a whole.  Particularly, they will be discussing how advertisers are making the shift from print to digital, how technology is helping to enhance the magazine experience, how workflow tools have changed now that the month-long print lifecycle no longer applies and how publishers are collecting and using metadata to enhance the reader experience.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Keith: That’s a tough question to answer; SXSW is packed with quality sessions. The worst part is you know that no matter where you you choose to go, you will be missing out on a brilliant session on the other side of town. I’m of course interested in the whole Journalism and Online Content track at the Sheraton. A lot of our publisher partners will be presenting here, and I intend to catch as many of their sessions as I can.

To get some inspiration, I will also pay attention to the Emerging track at the Hilton Downtown and the Design & Development track at the Convention Center.


Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger


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