How does a publisher move from brand engagement to an enterprise transactional model?

It all revolves around thinking like a retailer and utilising your brands to capitalise on new revenue streams.

Immediate Media is a combined publishing house formed with BBC Magazines, Magicalia and Origin, with around 70 brands.

The group has been investing in technology for a while, enabling digital elements to be added to its subscriptions, as well as integrating advertising and product sales.

The magazines are chiefly publishing special interest content, from sports to weddings etc. With 80% of Immediate’s revenue coming from selling content, it’s clear that there’s a balance to be found between product development and monetisation.

Let’s take a look in more detail…

UX teams must be pragmatic and favour operational revenue

Immediate’s digital magazine content comes in three formats - PDF, enhanced PDF and fully interactive magazine

Although it’s easy to scoff at a PDF magazine, readers want the content online and this quick solution adds to the value of a subscription immediately. Some PDF solutions completely suit a particular type of content and audience. 

One example is the Gardener’s World iPad app which has used embedded audio to allow readers to play birdsong from within a feature about garden birds. 

gardener's world magazine

Content discovery and subscriptions are as important as improving the product

Following on from the last point, iteration is as much about enabling readers to find existing content and about selling current products to customers as it is about improving the content per se.

That blend of optimisation and improvement is another part of the pragmatism needed from both editorial and product teams. 

Well-loved brands can give new products a lead in empty markets

Another great case study. In the pursuit of new revenue streams, the You and Your Wedding brand started a venue search engine, a transactional lead based business doing something that previously didn’t really exist.

The brand is strong enough to ensure that over time a good share of the venue hunting audience may use the product, and significant referral fees can be gained in what is a highly valuable market.

you and your wedding venue finder

Think like a retailer

This is probably the chief point to be made. Immediate Media has a CRM database with 4m records, and more than 1m subscriptions.

Using this data smartly to increase transactions is the key point.

A case in point is the Radio Times’ rapidly expanding travel business. In the 15 months since launch it made £5m in revenue, £1m in January 2014 alone.

Travel partners were chosen based on the audience demographic and the ability to achieve complex integration comfortably. These partners include Holiday Extras, Riviera Travel and Voyages of Discovery.

As this model is working well, the next step could see it being rolled out for a product such as insurance.

rt travel on ipad

Find the balance between ‘editorially led’ and ‘product driven’

Part of thinking like a retailer is having the right organisational structure and mix of staff. This chart shows what the approach is at Immediate Media.

immediate staff structure

Build an adaptive enterprise through long-term investments in owned technology

Immediate is creating publishing tools which its brands can use easily. There’s no doubt that if you have a large editorial team, especially across brands, investing in creating an easy to use platform is wise.

Creating dynamic content can be as easy as clicking and dragging elements within the CMS. 

Are you a publisher exploring new revenue streams? Leave a comment below.

Ben Davis

Published 20 March, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

1231 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (2)


Michelle | Synergy Digital

I agree, the key has to be great content whilst offering a positive user experience for the device, and let's be honest the BBC usually get it right!

With iPad Apps for magazines and brochures, the iPad is a perfect platform for this but publishers have to offer users so much more than a 'flipbook' to engage them and make downloading and using the app worthwhile.

Digital magazines and brochures need to use the technology offered by the platform and combine it with great usability and engaging content to be on to a winner.

over 4 years ago

Andrew Wise

Andrew Wise, Strategic Director at Engine Creative

Interesting article Ben and some great examples referenced.

Having worked closely with the Immediate Media team on the launch of the enhanced edition of TopGear Magazine, it’s clear that publishers who innovate and deliver added value to their readers are the ones that will achieve the most success.

Increasing revenue streams by simply providing PDF page turners is just not going to happen for the majority of publishers and certainly shouldn’t be considered as a long term publishing strategy.

Providing a quality product driven by unique and engaging content is just as relevant in the digital publishing era as it was (or still is!) in the print publishing era. The difference is how you match readers expectations across digital platforms.

For additional reference:

over 4 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.