Two months after the successful acquisition of Time Out Australia by Time Out Group, and on the eve of the brand’s 10th birthday down under, MD Michael Rodrigues peers into the crystal ball and reveals what’s around the corner for Time Out’s audience, clients, and staff
Publishing in 2017 remains a tricky business, particularly in a market like Australia where the overall audience is small by global standards and the competition fierce. The pain is experienced in equal measures across the market – major publishers like Fairfax and News continue to restructure their workforces to meet new conditions. And at the smaller end of the market we have witnessed the closures of well respected and much loved publishers like Urban Walkaboutand Avant Card.
The analysis for publishing success in the short term and sustainability in the long term, comes down to two primary considerations:
- How do you maintain content quality (and therefore audience quality) over the long term while reducing your cost base?
- What else can you deliver for your stakeholders, in order to improve your offering?
We’ve been the custodians of the Time Out brand in Australia since 2007 as licensees, and the opportunity to return to the mothership as an owned and operated title brings with it multiple benefits for all our stakeholders – brand, audience, clients and staff – that will continue to see Time Out flourish, notwithstanding challenging market conditions.
As the primary audience engagement tool, a publisher’s digital platforms are a continual work in progress (ie, bottomless pit of investment). We’ve essentially rid ourselves of ongoing capex by adopting a powerful global platform that facilitates content sharing across our network while retaining the ability to localise our digital channels to Australian conditions. Woohoo! Also, no more royalty fees on our revenue. Winning!
So what’s the upside for our stakeholders?
For our audience
Pipeline developments to the digital platform will result in ongoing improvements to products and UX, allowing our audience to better discover entertainment options, book them and share with their friends.
For our clients
Campaigns often come with a sizeable fixed cost – campaign conception and asset build, content creation, and in some cases, event development and execution.
As the trusted voice of the city in 108 locations in 39 countries all over the world, Time Out reaches a global monthly audience of 137 million. A good chunk of this audience lives in markets that have key trade relationships with Australia in our key verticals of travel, hospitality and arts and culture. Which is to say: build campaigns with us here and we can take that work to markets like London, LA, New York, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong (among others).
For our staff
As the leader of any business will tell you nothing is possible without good people. As a small publisher, it has often been difficult to compete with our larger players’ advancement incentives. But as part of the Time Out Group, opportunities to work overseas via job swaps or secondments are more likely. And the ability to accelerate careers is well evidenced already, with Time Out Australia alumni at senior ranks globally (my co-founder Justin Etheridge is our Chief Revenue Officer, and former Time Out Sydney editor Joel Meares is our Global Editor-in-Chief).
All of this means we are now a better employment offering, which for me personally is perhaps the most exciting part of the acquisition. I am chuffed that we have the potential to reward loyal and dedicated staff with even more career opportunities, and look forward to meeting new talent that are attracted by the opportunity to fast-track their careers with the world’s leading lifestyle publisher (…so long as they aren’t afraid of hard work!).