CAMPAIGN INTERACTIVE: PROFILE/EMAP CONSUMER ONLINE - Web publishing smells profit at last as Emap plans subscription service. Gordon MacMillan talks to Emap Consumer Online’s Katarina Strupinska about making money on the Web

It is already apparent that 1998 is going to be a crucial year for publishing companies on the Web. Phrases not heard before in connection with Web publishing - such as ’in profit’ - are being spoken out loud.

It is already apparent that 1998 is going to be a crucial year for

publishing companies on the Web. Phrases not heard before in connection

with Web publishing - such as ’in profit’ - are being spoken out

loud.



One of those talking this language is Emap Consumer Online. It expects

to be in profit by the end of March, for the first time in its 18-month

history. The profit will not be big, but it will be an important signal

of a new phase of development for Emap’s consumer titles.



The company has just revamped the look and feel of its portfolio of

sites - which comprises FHM, Campaign’s Medium of the Year; the film

magazine, Empire; the music titles, Select and Q; a portfolio of

motorcycle magazines grouped under Motorcycle World and a number of car

magazines grouped under Car World.



Over the next three to six months Emap will take the big step of adding

transactional services to the sites. Stage three will be no less

significant: the introduction of subscription charges.



The woman in charge of this bold project is Katarina Strupinska, Emap

Consumer Online’s director of publishing. Strupinska’s strategy is

clear: each site should offer a one-stop shop for consumers. ’We have a

number of strong propositions for consumers, particularly when it comes

to music and film, and we want them to come to us first,’ she says. ’The

Empire site focuses on films on release in the UK. We want people to be

able to see a trailer, read a review and buy a ticket, and we are

currently talking to a cinema chain. The same for music - hear a clip,

read a review and buy a CD.’



The adding of the transactional elements will, Strupinska hopes, achieve

a number of goals. The sites are already busy, but making them

all-inclusive one-stop shops should ensure traffic increases

significantly, with people spending more time in each site.



Strupinska will also attempt to draw more banner advertising to the

sites.



Emap has had some success with sponsorship, notably on its Motorcycle

World site, with Lloyds offering bike financing, and a version of BMG

Interactive’s CD-Rom quiz game, ’You don’t know Jack’, on FHM.



’We are very interested in offering bespoke advertising solutions. With

’You don’t know Jack’, we created a mini-version of the game as an

interactive competition and we had 20,000 responses,’ she says.



But perhaps the most interesting item on Strupinska’s agenda is the idea

of charging for content.



Subscription of any kind is still rare on the Web and almost unheard of

in the consumer arena. Strupinska is unabashed: ’People already pay for

these magazines in the print form and all we will be doing is getting

them to subscribe to certain sections of our site.’



Some might be sceptical about the willingness of people to pay to search

back copies of Q, but Strupinska points to the Motor-cycle World site,

whose forums have 12,000 members, and suggests that paying for expert

online advice could be another revenue avenue. The same goes for the

classic car part of its car site - consumers could book time to engage

the experts on a one-to-one basis. ’The specialist areas will be the

first to have paid-for content and that should be in place by the fourth

quarter of 1998.’



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