BoSacks Interview with Gavin Gillas CEO of The Magazine Channel -
Finally the answer to search for the Magazine Media Business - the Pandora for Magazine Content
BoSacks - You are involved in a new format for digital distribution of magazines. What is it and how does it work?
Gavin Gillas - We developed STACKS by starting with the digital-first consumer--the one that whips out her phone while waiting in line, the one who grabs his iPad off the nightstand the first thing in the morning to catch up on the news, the multi-tasker, the person on the go. Our team realized that music, video, and news had all adapted to these consumers, while magazines were still finding their way. STACKS starts that reader out with complete choice over what to read and where to share it. We focused on articles as the core part of the magazine experience. We as consumers buy music by singles, watch movie trailers, listen to soundbites - so our team found an easier way to dive into new magazines. STACKS does a beautiful job of presenting magazine content and recommending related articles and topics.
It sounds like this will finally provide magazines the holy grail of searchability. Can you elaborate on that?
Gavin Gillas - Instead of simple syndication or scraping of publishers' content, we only feature licensed content, which allows us to host and format all the articles we distribute. For the reader, this means they can sample articles from hundreds of magazines without leaving the STACKS app or shifting over to a web browser. It also means that all articles are searchable in app using full text returns. Every person, place, and thing is fully searchable by users and powers a deeper dive into publishers' magazines than a simple news reader can.
How important or in what way will advertising work with this product?
Gavin Gillas - Advertising has always been native to the consumer magazine experience. Ads seem less intrusive alongside good article content than the ubiquitous banners and pop ups that plague other apps. We work with ad servers and brands that can provide a quality ad experience that matches the quality of our magazine content. Matching ad inventory to readers' topics also helps keep readers engaged with the ads and articles together as a unified experience and improves ad revenue shared back to publishers.
Can you discuss your initial distribution plans? How and where will the public find this product?
Gavin Gillas - STACKS for the iPad just launched and is available on iTunes here: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stacks-by-magazine-channel/id669591071). We will also be launching for Android tablets on Google Play in the coming weeks, then developing web and smartphone versions of our product. Some publishers have begun promoting their involvement in STACKS to their online readers, and we will begin a print promotion program to new readership with our publishers as well.
What partners have signed on? What will their role be?
Gavin Gillas - We have a unique distribution opportunity through work we are doing with Intel Corporation, which we will be announcing soon. Our distribution partnerships will bring publishers' articles to a new generation of readers through devices that are soon to be released. On the content side, we have partnered with over 50 publishers to bring their magazines to new readers through STACKS. As we add additional anchor titles, we will be announcing those partnerships over the coming weeks.
How do digital formats such as tablets hold promise for reaching new audiences in your market?
Gavin Gillas - Tablets bridge home and work use and as a form factor really show what magazines can be for new readers. Our app is designed to bridge B2B and consumer content to provide context for business readers while giving consumers a deeper dive into topics that match their passions. This blurring of personal and professional consumption is a unique feature in STACKS, and it is our hope that users rely on the app for both work and hobby. For younger digital users, many magazines will have their chance at first impressions through STACKS as users find their content engaging and move from STACKS into that publisher's web, print or app properties.
Media companies, especially in the b-to-b sector, are often hesitant to adopt to new strategies because they claim they either cannot make money or do not know how to make money using the platform. Do you have any insights or advice?
Gavin Gillas - STACKS provides three key benefits to media companies: audience development, revenue sharing, and platform growth. It is our goal to augment the efforts of publishers, not replace them. We see the flaws in the existing newsstands and are working first to solve the discovery problem publishers face in reaching new (and in the B2B arena, qualified) readership. Our advertising sits at the topical level, meaning that we can share ad revenue with publisher that in the past have earned little or no ad revenue from their content. Instead of making publishers chase every new platform and device, we will work through integration with distribution partners to make STACKS as readily available as Netflix, Pandora, or Hulu.
Is there a social element in this new information distribution ecosystem? How will it work?
Gavin Gillas - The initial functions in STACKS allow you to bring the great articles you discover to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as sharing or annotating via email. Over time, we will have advanced functions that allow users to dive deeper into publications and further customize their social experience. We are also exploring tighter social platform integration which will allow readers to access content from The Magazine Channel's publishers from the web.
How do you intend to continually deliver the increasingly higher expectations of your new readers? I guess I'm asking what the glue to keep them attached to Stacks?
Gavin Gillas - Our goal is to provide that serendipitous rush that comes from discovering or rediscovering your passions. We hope to keep readers coming back every day by refreshing and refining the content they read. We will be the dashboard for professional and personal interests that helps readers find their favorite magazines.
How are you planning for continued technological progress and the growth of an increasingly multi-platformed playing field?
Gavin Gillas - We've been a part of demos that involve connected home technologies, second screen devices, wearables, and other emerging platforms. The key for us is to serve publishers well so that their content and connection with readers remains strong, regardless of the way readers find and consume their media. Our job is to stay ahead of these trends and keep publishers in the loop with where their audience is emerging.
Seeking a blueprint for success, what are some key attributes for a successful information distributor in the 21st century?
Gavin Gillas - The distributor's job is to look upstream to the publishers and creators and find the best ways to represent their work and build models to encourage their investment in high quality content. Then to look downstream and to find ways to take all possible work for the readers away in accessing and reading content. Which today for us means no PDFs, no pinching and zooming, and no extra downloads to discover hundreds of magazines. Going forward it means truly understanding the value of content archives, engagement data, and platform strategies.