PacMags’ CEO Peter Zavecz rules out creating digital arm to house digital assets

Pacific Magazines will be looking to embed digital skills within the magazine company, having returned its digital assets in-house instead of creating a digital-specific off-shoot similar to Bauer Media’s Bauer Xcel.

Zavecz: too many weekly magazines

Zavecz: “Content is content, it’s not going to be ‘print’ content or ‘digital’ content’

“It’s hard enough to run our own business without telling Bauer how to run their business, they’ll run it how they want to,” Pacific Magazines CEO Peter Zavecz said when asked what the next step would be after bringing its digital assets in-house and if the company was looking at creating a separate digital company like Bauer Xcel.

“We’re actually intending to integrate all our content channels into our content businesses. Content is content, it’s not going to be ‘print’ content or ‘digital’ content.

“As far as we’re concerned, the platform will not need to be distinguished from the overall objective and that is delivering to the consumer what they want, when they want it and how they want it.”

“For our staff it’s a telling moment. Now they have the opportunity to up-skill and essentially deliver to the audience content when and where they want it.”

Pacific-Magazines-w-Girlfriend-Better-Homes-Gardens-New-Idea-1000x600Seven West Media, the parent company of Pacific Magazines, took back the digital properties for the company from Yahoo7 at the end of March. The move was similar to that of Australia’s biggest magazine publisher Bauer Media when it took back its digital assets from Ninemsn in April last year. The company then launched Bauer Xcel to house them.

Zavecz described bringing the digital assets back in-house as a “watershed moment” for the business.

“We have absolutely succeeded quite well in a very challenging environment considering we were a magazine company that didn’t have full control of our cross-platform assets,” he said.

Zavecz said Pacific Magazines mastheads would “in the main” have one publisher overseeing both print and digital content. In contrast with Bauer where some mastheads have often had two publishers one responsible for the print product and one for the digital assets.

famous magazineBringing digital assets back in-house has seen Pacific Magazines shut down the struggling Famous magazine, relaunching the brand as digital-only FamousLive.

It was a decision Zavecz admitted was due to Famous struggling to generate advertising revenue.

There’s a mathematical kind of equation which is revenue-less-costs-equals-margin. There’s that mathematical equation. But then it’s also understanding the market and our insights and our trend spotting,” he said.

“In this case, it was obvious that you’re trying to chase this demographic who are obsessed with mobile and online all the time. You’re trying to chase them through supermarkets, newsagents and kiosks that they’re just not accessing. That became fairly obvious to us.

“When you look at that top line there’s circulation revenue, and it was circulating quite well, but Famous wasn’t generating the kind of advertising revenue we needed and that was probably the ultimate decision.”

The closure of Famous has seen Pacific Magazines redeploy eight of its staff around the business with Zavecz saying the digital version of Famous did not require as many staff as the print product did.

“In the case of Famous, we’re really happy we’ve been able to redeploy a number of the affected staff. In fact from about 25 staff we’ve been able to redeploy eight, and that’s about a third who’ve been redeployed within the business,” Zavecz said.

“Not all of them have been redeployed on the digital product – we don’t need as many people on the digital product. That is just the structure of that particular magazine but that doesn’t mean every magazine website is going to be like that.

“Famous doesn’t have a lot of service areas you need to focus on. It’s very much in the moment and about celebrities. It’s important that we have a focused staff but we don’t need the depth of skill sets as you’d need in a monthly service magazine which is a lot of expertise in certain areas like fashion, beauty, shopping, relationships.

“We don’t need that depth in a website like Famous. A lot of that content comes to us in various forms and it’s newsy, celebrity news.”

Wadelton works on digital content for Pacific Magazines

Wadelton works on digital content for Pacific Magazines

FamousLive is led by Pacific Magazines’ digital content director, Brett Wadelton, while Rachael Smith – who joined Pacific Magazines in January after two years with Nova Entertainment as a digital content producer – is the executive producer. They are supported by three digital producers.

When it comes to hiring staff as the company absorbs its digital assets into the business, Zavecz admitted there were skills they needed to bring into the business.

We’ve hired a number of digital people in areas that we needed those skill sets. Obviously development design analytics are not skill sets that we had here,” he said.

“In content we will be hiring some. The idea is to train the trainer or to create ‘super users’ within each of those content areas who are specialised and will begin to up-skill their immediate content co-workers around them and provide them with the software, technology and training they need to up-skill.”

Now that Pacific Magazines has full control over its digital assets, the magazine company is examining what it can do online with content.

In February the publisher launches two new beauty websites, BeautyCrew and Styled By Marie Claire, which sees content from Pacific Magazines’ beauty and fashion magazines fed into.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.50.13 pmThis month the publisher partnered with global digital food brand, Allrecipes, with Zavecz hinting the food category would be a focus for Pacific in the future.

“We’re looking at aggregating a lot of our content and also some smart partnerships. One of those is AllRecipes as we saw an opportunity there with a community-based site which is centred on food.

“It’s very unique and there’s nothing like it in the world; it’s people sharing food. That’s a real addition to our digital food footprint.”

He added: “Food will be an interesting thing.”

Zavecz said not every category will see a centralised site created.

“We’re looking at each particular category on its merits,” he said.

“We were talking to our big advertisers about what they were after and that’s delivering them these one-stop-shops where we can aggregate all that content and provide great functionality, great consumer experiences and great engagement for them.”

Miranda Ward


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