MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - There might never be a better time for publishers to float

News that the parent company of OK! magazine is set to float for an estimated pounds 500 million shouldn’t come as a great surprise - most large publishers who haven’t floated are set to do so. But the aggressive, cut-throat style of the company’s founder and owner, Richard Desmond, will be an interesting prospect for others to take on. Desmond’s accountability to a board of shareholders will no doubt cause a few wry smiles around the industry.

News that the parent company of OK! magazine is set to float for an

estimated pounds 500 million shouldn’t come as a great surprise - most

large publishers who haven’t floated are set to do so. But the

aggressive, cut-throat style of the company’s founder and owner, Richard

Desmond, will be an interesting prospect for others to take on.

Desmond’s accountability to a board of shareholders will no doubt cause

a few wry smiles around the industry.



Saying that, the success of Northern & Shell and its diverse portfolio

of products is enough to whet the appetite of anyone seeking a good

investment opportunity. Desmond’s pledge to overpower OK!’s older

Spanish rival, Hello!, has recently been fulfilled, with the magazine’s

sales hurtling above the 500,000 mark while Hello! hovered just

below.



How did he do it? OK! has reinvigorated the weekly magazine market and,

rather than choosing unreachable European royals, welcomed the more

attainable soap, football and pop stars into our homes. While the more

traditional weeklies may be floundering, advertisers have the

alternative of a booming celebrity magazine sector.



Desmond’s business staple may be less palatable to some, with magazines

such as Asian Babes, Forum and the adult cable TV station, The Fantasy

Channel, helping to fill his coffers, but this sector is big business.

Desmond’s plan to use the money gained through flotation for expanding

online ventures is vital to the company’s growth.



The potential of an OK! website and the e-commerce services which could

be spun off the back of it are enormous.



But there is another reason why Desmond is willing to answer to a board

of shareholders. OK! has launched in other European markets and, as we

can see from the likes of Dennis Publishing and Emap launching magazines

in the US, there is a need to discover new overseas markets in order to

maintain growth. It was interesting to see in the latest slew of

six-monthly ABCs that a lot of the traditional magazine sectors are not

enjoying exponential growth, and if the opportunities to go niche are

limited it’s time to move on to pastures new.



The amount of money from venture capitalists and private investors in

the City presents great opportunities for publishers to reinvent their

businesses. With the Time Warner AOL deal confirming the premise that

content is king, this sector is benefiting from a renaissance.

Publishers with strong brands and focused target audiences are ripe for

development in online media, even if they are struggling to adapt to the

new medium.



Within the next year, it is likely we will see the biggest UK publisher

launch itself into the public sector, with IPC’s investor, Cinven,

hoping to see a return on its substantial investment. So who would you

put your money on? I won’t say anything, of course, because I wouldn’t

like to be accused of any unorthodox trading activities.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).