As we lead up to tomorrow’s start of the INMA European Conference in The Hague, The Netherlands, we continue to preview some of our speakers, exploring their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing our industry.
This week, we’ll hear from Pawel Wujec, editing director for marketing and information services at Agora SA in Warsaw, Poland. Wujec gives us his thoughts on growing advertising and digital revenues, as well as paid content and easy access to content.
INMA: Until last month and the launch of the Piano paid-content system in Poland, you didn’t publish all of your content on the Web. Some, like Wysokie Obcasy and Duzy Format, were held back. Why?
Wujec: Our goal was to keep our readers close to us and not let them leave with the free content distribution on the Web. Once the tools enabling us to charge for content appeared, the missing content could also be published on the Internet.
Therefore, we decided to provide more content to our readers, including our special supplements, Duzy Format, Wysokie Obcasy, and Ale Historia. The first behind the paywall was the supplement Magazyn Swiateczny in May of 2012. Now, we develop the strategy of paid content distribution with the Piano platform.
INMA: Is all of Agora’s content available now on the Web? How do you choose which articles should be paid for?
Wujec: Together with Piano, we definitely expanded the amount of paid content on our pages. Regarding their selection, we have three main criteria: their quality, uniqueness, and practical/informative character.
The first two criteria are addressed mainly to the content of Gazeta Wyborcza. All three criteria are met by content of Agora’s magazines, i.e. Cztery Katy and Poradnik Domowy.
INMA: Do you believe paid content is the only cure for publishers’ struggles?
Wujec: Definitely not the only one. Inside the chaos of media transformation, many smart business models and ways to earn money can be found. Paid content is just one of them, but - at least for us - the main source of income will be the advertising displayed with widely accessible content. In order for the advertising income to grow, we have to develop our presence on different platforms, be it mobile or video offer.
The problem of publishers is not only looking for different income sources but also adjusting to the new hard times, organization, and cost structures.
INMA: Apart for Piano, you sell content in different ways, be it electronic replicas of your newspapers or early access to the magazine edition. Does it mean you are still experimenting with different paid content models? Is plurality of those good for the readers?
Wujec: Our goal is to make accessing our content as easy as possible, that’s why we strongly appreciate Piano as the model of the premium paid content. Our users’ expectations differ, and we try to adjust our offer to their needs. Knowing this, our actions are not necessarily experiments - rather we are reacting to the demand of the readers’ market.
INMA: What part of Agora’s revenue is generated by digital operations? What are your plans for the next two to three years?
Wujec: In the first six months of 2012, the income of Agora’s Internet department reached US$18.7 million, which was more than 10% of all Agora’s income. What should be remembered is the fact that Agora is not only a publisher, but also the owner of a large outdoor company and a chain of movie theatres.
If we compare the income from digital with traditional print activities, the share of the Internet in the overall income is 16%. Our goal is, of course, the fastest and most efficient digitalisation of our company - both developing the Web-only businesses (existing and new ones) and migration of traditional brands to the digital world.
What differentiates us from other publishers is the fact that our Web activity is not only focused around our traditional brands. We have numerous undertakings, together with our flagship Gazeta.pl, that definitely are the pure-plays.
INMA: Agora’s digital portfolio, and the number of brands within it, is very impressive. As a teaser before the INMA conference, please tell me how many brands do you own and how do you manage them?
Wujec: We have dozens of brands. Even I don’t know how many exactly. Their importance is different. The main brands are Gazeta.pl, Sport.pl, advertising/classified Web sites like GazetaPraca.pl (jobs) and Domiporta.pl (real estates), and Gazeta Wyborcza's brands: Wyborcza.pl and Wyborcza.biz.
Smaller brands are often launched as experiments, carefully looked over to see whether the concept finds acceptance and new users. That is the way many important projects were born, such as our gossip portal, Plotek.pl.
But an important part of this process is the regular analysis of the popularity indicators and their profitability, and “killing” the ones that were not accepted. For example, in the spring of this year, we decided to shut down a dozen of our Web services; in that way we are able to control our portfolio.
INMA: How do/will you differentiate your brand, your news site from the competition?
Wujec: Gazeta.pl, our biggest portal, has the ambition to be the best information source on the Polish Internet. How do we want to achieve this? I will tell you during the conference.
For more information on and registration for our European Conference, please visit our Web site. See you in The Hague! INMA correspondent Marek Miller will be blogging live from the Conference at forum4editors.com.