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The New Media – Print by Ian Fairservice

Motivate's managing partner looks at the effect of this pandemic and how it will change the print industry in the long term

By Ian Fairservice, managing partner and group editor of Motivate Media Group

As I wrote a couple of short weeks ago, there is a global surge in the consumption of news and, with so much of the fake kind out there, people are turning to established media for reliable information. And it’s really not important if that content is found in print, online or interactive content such as hosted webinars.

Companies just need to think long and hard about the best possible media mix and do their utmost to stack the odds in their favour.

Motivate are not just focusing more energy and talent on our online editions, we’re also maintaining the balance by ensuring that much-loved print products reach readers in spite of the increasing difficulties. We have already moved the vast majority of print to a free distribution model, allowing us to put our magazines directly into readers’ hands. These delivery platforms so far include Gulf News subscribers in selected areas, the British Business Group membership approaching 2,000, Troon Golf members across the Emirates and our own subscriber and direct marketing lists. We are actively promoting our print readership during this time, while others have used this as an opportunity to save on costs by reducing – and in some cases virtually eradicating – print runs.

Motivate Media Group’s digital capabilities make it easier for us to effectively target readers by identifying current print subscribers and those who have not subscribed. As a result, we are able to track the client journey to determine how they are engaging with our content on multiple platforms.

From an advertising perspective there is a big push to content-based advertising in print, in the same way as digital has seen a shift to native advertising. This also allows for integrated packages across multiple media, giving advertisers increased reach and content appeal, such as including video and social into the overall offering.

What we are witnessing with the changing dynamics brought about from “working from home” is that there has been a big shift in dealing with clients directly, as some agencies are less responsive, which is going to bring more challenges – and opportunities – to the industry moving forward.
We see an increased demand in branded content online and the new trend of virtual events (including webinars). With brands such as Emirates Woman, there is still a strong demand for fashion content and exclusive cover shoots, which are often re-posted and shared on social media.

With reduced mobility and our broad offering of free downloads, we are experiencing an increase in digital downloads of the magazines. So, strange as it might appear, print is still a very important part of the media mix and brand offering.

While still maintaining stock at retailers, free copies of What’s On, Emirates Woman, Gulf Business and Identity are being delivered directly to Gulf News subscribers in Emirates Hills, Emirates Living, Arabian Ranches, JLT, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim and Trade Centre 2. The philosophy is very straightforward: We are adapting our business model to ensure that no magazines go unread. Add to that the other, previously detailed distribution platforms, and our advertisers are assured of a very decent bang for their buck.

This is Motivate’s strategy to maintain service to our readers, visibility for our brands and ROI for our advertisers – all three are equally important to see us and our stakeholders navigate safely through these potentially calamitous waters. Maintaining brand visibility is absolutely key to survival. The alternative is the far more risky and expensive option of being left behind – and going back to square one.