One week before the INMA European Conference in Berlin, INMA spoke to Fabienne Martens, Internal Venture Lead (new digital startup) at Sanoma Media Belgium. She explains the success this Finnish media group is having in Belgium and worldwide, thanks in part to its innovation accelerator programme.

INMA: Sanoma is a large international Finnish media group. What is the role of the Belgian division within the organisation?

Martens: Sanoma Media Belgium is part of the Sanoma Group and is the leading media company in Belgium. SMB operates in both Dutch- and French-speaking media markets and publishes more than 48 magazine titles.

Today, Sanoma Belgium is the market leader in women’s magazines. Its largest title, Libelle, has a circulation of more than 200,000 copies.

Besides the print activities, Sanoma Belgium hosts more than 15 Web sites and has developed more than 15 mobile and iPad apps. Since July 2011, Sanoma Belgium owns 33% of De Vijver Media (Woestijnvis, Humo nv, and SBS Belgium).

In 2012, Sanoma Belgium created its first radio station, StoryFM. And ecently, Libelle TV was launched, the first digital TV channel of Sanoma Belgium. Within one month, it reached 1.4 million viewers. Sanoma Belgium also developed an iPad application, Magstore, where all our magazine titles can be downloaded.

Sanoma Media is also active in the area of content marketing with the offices sQills, KungFu, and HeadOffice. [HeadOffice] was awarded last month as the best content marketing agency of the year in the United States.

INMA: How many digital products have you created so far? Could you name a few of the most popular ones?

Martens: Sanoma has the leading mobile (and Web) news services in Finland/the Netherlands, and has over 500 digital products worldwide. FashionChick is our big international rollout. Sanoma’s portfolio is very big with many e-commerce assets, content services, etc.

Also Sanoma (External) Ventures and the Internal Ventures are expanding our digital footprint. BeautyTale is one of the Internal Ventures that came out of the mobile accelerator programme in November last year.

INMA: What is BeautyTale and how does it work? Is it one platform only or is it accessible as apps on every mobile and tablet device?

Martens: BeautyTale helps and inspires women to find the right beauty products, based upon their beauty profile. At BeautyTale, they get personalised beauty advice from experts and can buy the products that fit their needs. The goal is to build an app, but for testing reasons we are currently working with a responsive Web site. 

INMA: What is its business model? Is it ad only or do users pay for it?

Martens: We are still running experiments to find the right business model. We are running tests for affiliate model, advertising model, SaaS (software as a service), etc.

INMA: So far it is available in the Netherlands only. Do you plan to expand to other markets as well?

Martens: All ideas in the Ventures programme must be internationally scalable, and so is BeautyTale.