Q&A: Bauer Media Group CEO Nick Chan

Nick Chan speaks on the challenges of the evolving print media model, why being channel agnostic is the way to go and what he likes about journalists in this interview excerpted from The Lunchbox 2017.

How is the media industry evolving? How will it change in the years to come?
Specifically on the print media – the key evolution is the shift from looking at a brand as a print product to a multi-media brand. Frankly, the major change will be the shift from rhetoric to a “real” mindset of a multi-media brand – and aligning the capabilities required with a multi-media brand to the demands of a multi-media brand.

Do publishers need to move away from free content models in the online space towards paid consumption models? If so, what models are the most effective, or does this depend on the publication?
Ideally, yes, but realistically market forces will dictate what is possible.

How is journalism as a profession changing? Is the division between sales and editorial blurrier than it used to be?
In my opinion, journalism is a calling, a passion. And whether or not you agree with individual journalists, I’ve always admired their commitment, beliefs and craft.

This is changing – technology has made it easier to be a writer/blogger/influencer which is often mistaken with the discipline, training and ethics of ‘traditional’ journalism.

And, yes, the division between sales and editorial is blurrier than it used to be.

What impact has digital technology had on print?
The impact has been profound. Digital technology has ‘enabled’ print by making certain processes more efficient and effective. But digital technology has also disrupted print, mostly by providing a powerful alternative to consumers for their delivery of information, inspiration and entertainment.

Print revenues have been in steady decline for several years. When will we see this decline level out and what should publishers do to combat it?
In Australia, print revenues do not reflect the audience engagement and delivery that magazines provide so hopefully there will be a rebalance. I think publishers could do a much better job advocating and marketing this unique magazine connection with audiences and we need to.

At the same time, publishers in Australia and globally are using these powerful connections to develop new media assets and revenue streams.

Do all media companies need to move away from channel-led approach to become channel agnostic multimedia businesses?
Yes, and I believe magazines have a significant advantage, as their audiences already see various magazines as brands that live beyond channel specific media. Think AWW, Australia Gourmet Traveller and Better Homes and Gardens as examples.

What are the new roles in publishing that are likely to emerge in the next five years?
A shift from ‘publishing’ as a term because it implies print. Roles that relate to monetisation of audiences which are not just about advertising sales, and roles that relate to commercialisation of content that extends beyond selling magazines or magazine subscriptions.

What are the biggest opportunities for publishers to move into different revenue streams in the coming year?
The great skill of publishers is the ability to create content that is highly valued. This is reflected by the ‘gold’ standard of engaging and relevant content which is content people are prepared to pay for, especially in a world that is full of free content.

The biggest opportunity remains creation of real value to clients via content marketing and the amplification of that to targeted audiences.

How do you see consumer patterns changing?
The past decade has been a golden age for the consumer. There has been incredible product and services innovation, price competition, and unparalleled access. Someone has to eventually pay and so it might not be a consumer-led change but supplier-led.

Nick Chan is the CEO at Bauer Media Group 

This interview was republished with permission of author Jason Dooris, CEO at Atomic 212, and is an excerpt from the book The Lunchbox 2017.


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