Current trends in digital consumption and technology have proved that the 21st century publishing arena requires a new paradigm to meet emerging business and media trends. Group FMG, a New York City-based marketing and media solutions company, is looking to lead the charge, offering a suite of technology and services designed to help publishers and global brands adapt to the new environment, provide users an immerse, contextual experience, as well as chart a vision on how publishers can drive new revenue streams. Group FMG’s vision includes creating production efficiencies and new revenue streams to navigate through a shifting landscape of new forms of rich media, channels, big data and consumer behavior.
“Our vision, shared by many in publishing, is that we have to figure out a way to realize two objectives,” says Dr. Michael Esposito, Senior Vice President, Head of Publishing, Group FMG. “First, we need to help publishers rationalize their existing print businesses, finding efficiencies in the supply chain so they can put some of that money back into technology to help find ways to get content to emerging platforms.”
The second goal, adds Esposito, “is that we have to get publishers to start thinking more like retailers. Publications need to drive new revenue streams and take advantage ancillary opportunities such as e-commerce.”
Whether they know it or not, magazine publishers are already well-positioned to successfully participate in the e-commerce environments: According to the MPA Factbook, produced by the Association of Magazine Media, “Magazines increased purchase intent five times as much as television or the Internet when looking at how each medium alone affected purchase intent.”
Group FMG, which has additional offices in London and the Indian cities of Bangalore and Chennai, integrates creative design, production services, and commerce infrastructure for publishing and brand content originators. Using its global footprint along with its team of technology savvy experts, Group FMG looks to help publishers lower overhead costs, reduce risk and improve innovation while providing new business opportunities.
“We operate as consultants, with a process-driven focus,” explains Esposito. “We provide a global perspective, consulting on how to reorganize and change management to bring flexibility and innovation to the production process.”
Accomplishing these objectives requires advanced workflow automation with labor that can be strategically sourced in a way that makes sense—that drives efficiency. Using best-in-class technology, Group FMG gleans opportunities and efficiencies, ultimately streamlining the production process.
Nick Piper, VP of Operations, Media Production, Group FMG, explains, “The core infrastructure that this plan is built on is the DALIM SOFTWARE suite of tools. The back end automation technology and soft proofing technology are all DALIM SOFTWARE-based tools: TWIST for workflow automaton, DIALOGUE for soft proofing, and ES for collaboration. We also use Xinet Web Native, for digital asset management.”
Adds Esposito, “Using TWIST, DIALOGUE Engine and ES, we are able to automate certain tasks, and then globally source parts of the process that we aren’t able to automate. We also can create content for clients who choose to outsource this function as well as many of the other services within the digital environment, such as SEO and analytics.”
In the fall of 2011, Group FMG began working on production for well known North American publishers such as Reader’s Digest and American Media, Inc. A typical scenario within a publishing enterprise might have Group FMG managing the production process using DALIM SOFTWARE technology to efficiently deploy cross-media content across emerging and print media platforms while automating and streamline the workflow. TWIST automates repetitive tasks and file creation, DIALOGUE Engine replaces hard copy proofing with remote soft proofing, and ES drives online file approval and delivery. The publishers can continue to build on the workflow infrastructure, based on TWIST and ES as they deploy content for mobile, iPads, and other emerging platforms.
One of the big issues for publishing companies is how content production is handled for the various platforms—print, web, mobile, and tablets. Often each platform has its own team; there is, for example, a digital team, a print team, a mobile team, etc., working apart from one another and losing out to production redundancy and inefficiency. “One of our primary goals is to help our clients centralize content production; this is something that we are looking to bring the publishing community at large,” says Esposito.
This will become even more critical as more publishers look to move content onto a variety of platforms. According to the MPA Factbook, “The number of iPad apps for U.S. magazines has 8 increased more than ten-fold since Monitor started tracking publication-related apps in April 2010; the majority of them being extensions of print magazines.”
The solomoco phenomenon
Group FMG’s core proposition is guiding brands through change. Centralizing content is one element of a larger transformation Group FMG is spearheading, one that will incorporate the four components of the ‘solomoco phenomenon’. Group FMG helps companies successfully navigate changes in the marketing landscape mix created by the solomoco dynamic (i.e. Social media, local rich media content, mobile apps and commerce — e-commerce/mobile) as below:
• The social media component doesn’t just point the audience to Twitter or Facebook, but provides a real opportunity for publishers to engage with and understand what is happening with their customers; to get a real sense of their experience(s), and to capture customers in the publisher’s microsite.
• The local component takes full advantage of GPS technology, allowing the publishers to interact with the application (website, mobile, tablet) and to feed content to customers that are geographically relevant. For example, a reader located in a warm climate, would see content on bathing suits, sunglasses and sunblock, while a reader in Aspen would see information on ski pants.
• The mobile component takes advantage of the device itself to ensure the best reader experience. Applications are designed from the ground up, to deliver content and experiences that are optimized for the device. This approach leverages the native capabilities of the access device rather than adopting a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach.
• The commercial or e-commerce component gives publishers the opportunity to use content to sell product, and will probably require the greatest change in the publishing community’s mindset.
Group FMG employed the solomoco phenomenon for direct mail/online retailer Boden, developing a digital catalog/magazine that creates an engaging digital communications experience for the reader, while promoting links to Boden’s e-commerce site, explains Piper. Not only do users get the best possible interactive experience, Boden is able to interact with buyers, strengthening the retailer-client relationship.
MPA’s Factbook proves the strength of Group FMG’s imperative, citing that reader engagement with a digital interactive magazine (82%) is more than four times greater than with a website of similar content (18%).
The editorial shopping network
“In our Boden application, users have what we call an editorial shopping experience,” says Piper. “We are able to use content to sell product, and to have the user’s location determine which clothing he or she sees within the digital catalog.”
The e-commerce component is the potential next step for an industry going through a transition. “The publishing community can no longer rely solely on advertising revenue; e-commerce offers a new revenue stream,” says Esposito. “There have to be other revenue streams to rationalize the business and most importantly return to a growth oriented strategy”
The business model presented by Group FMG reflects an adjustment to the new size of the publishing business, which has shrunk over the last five years, replacing the traditional model of advertising as the dominant contributor to the revenue stream with multiple small streams in new areas. “To accomplish this, publishers need a more complex and highly efficient internal operation as well as partnerships with experts in external environments,” says Esposito.
Group FMG is working closely with several publishers, intent on rolling out this type of experience by mid-year 2012. “We are already executing this type of model in Europe, helping to develop the e-commerce side of the business,” says Piper.
Not every publisher will implement the same solution; the solutions are extremely diverse based on the needs and size of clients, says Piper. “The first stage is to learn the existing workflows, see how the operations works, and to gain an understanding of the production processes,” notes Piper. “Then we analyze what we’ve recorded, and present how we think they should move forward, based on implementing a more streamlined and efficient workflow.”
Interestingly, while many publishing companies are using Content Management Systems or Digital Asset Management systems, they are often underutilized or not used correctly. “CMS is only as good as the information that is put into it; if there is incorrect tagging or lack of tagging it creates a workflow inefficiency at the back-end of the process,” says Esposito.
Mapping out the workflow
The first issue of the Boden catalog, which hit the web on January 1, 2012, took a month to build, with each update requiring a couple of weeks to design and execute. Piper, a workflow specialist, met with the Boden team initially to interview them and map out current workflows. “Especially with larger publishers, there are typically multiple workflows,” explains Piper. “During stage two, we mapped out the new opportunities, singling out redundancies and inefficiencies. We looked to centralized content production and as it gets deployed to different platforms.”
There is a transitional period, when Group FMG’s vision of what it hopes to achieve is initiated, which could last from a month to four depending on the complexity and size of the project. Then, “during the operational phase, we are continually analyzing and looking for ongoing improvements. We propose scalable plans, with a very controlled migration to the new workflow,” says Esposito.
The publishing industry has gone through a massive transformation — a revolution. “The industry in 2012 is very different from the industry just five years ago.” concludes Esposito. “Our solution is addressing the new environment, which requires flexibility at the client level, best in class technologies, and some level of ability to handle risk. The opportunity is here to take advantage of the next step of opportunities as the industry continues to evolve.”
Nick Piper has managed numerous on-location assignments helping Group FMG and its clients set up operations across North America, Europe and Asia. Michael Esposito holds a doctorate degree in international business management with a focus on the publishing industry.