PPA Blog

Making Strides... Investing for Success

By Tom Hawkins, Content Consultant, PPA

11 May 2021

Whether you’re focused on personal finance for a B2C audience or delivering information for healthcare professionals, publishing’s entrepreneurial spirit means new opportunities are never far away. In this session at the PPA Leadership Summit, two publishers based on either side of the Atlantic shared details of the opportunities they identified and the investments they made to create new products and services in response to changing market dynamics.

Meredith and Millie magazine

The Foundry is the branded-content agency embedded within US-based publishing house Meredith. Vice President and Editorial Director Diane Di Costanzo explained how the agency delivers content for clients based on the creative strength within Meredith and allied to data-driven insights into how it performs.

In 2019, a common theme emerged among The Foundry’s financial sector clients, who were seeking to gain greater engagement with a female audience. This prompted further investigation, which revealed a gap in the market for content that spoke openly to women about wealth.

Of the available content about financial information, it was largely targeted at men, while analysis of traditional women’s media found just five pages of content about money from the top 17 titles. Di Costanzo also highlighted data that shows how women are growing their share of control of wealth, while also pointing to a perceived lack of knowledge and confidence around the subject.

Di Costanzo and colleagues at The Foundry concluded that there was potentially space in the market for an editorial brand centred around women and money, and the concept that would eventually be known as Millie magazine was born.

Millie provided an opportunity to subvert the status quo, helping women achieve their goals by taking greater control of their finances, careers and the impact money has on their lives and relationships. It provides a platform for underserved audiences who identify as female, exploring issues around ethnicity, gender bias, age and socioeconomic factors, and telling their stories through the filter of finance.

The team decided to proceed carefully with the concept, sense-checking the audience appetite while limiting financial exposure by polybagging the magazine as a “ride-along” to Real Simple subscribers identified as engaging with financial content.

“The old model of pitching a new print magazine would be something around ‘let’s invest five years and $5 million and see if we can get this thing profitable’”, said Di Costanzo. “That is no longer attractive.”

The quarterly title was complemented by social media presence, a channel on the Real Simple website – rather than its own dedicated website - and a weekly email newsletter. It also hosts seminars and conferences around women and money, all in support of building the wider Friends of Millie community.

Cleverly, costs for the launch were also contained by the proposal to have a lead sponsor, avoiding the advertising sales effort required to push an as-yet unproven product. In late summer 2019, the idea was pitched to online financial services company Synchrony Bank, who provided a strong fit with the target demographic, and quickly agreed to be launch partner.

For a financially focused title, it has proved to be a financially savvy move: “We get two years to figure out who Millie is and where Millie goes next,” concludes Di Costanzo.

BMJ and BMJ New Ventures

First published in 1840, The BMJ is now a global healthcare brand that sits at the intersection of the fast-changing worlds of research and technology.

BMJ New Ventures was set up in 2018 as a vehicle for backing early-stage companies that are transforming research and healthcare. Strategy Director Anca Babor said it was borne out of the company’s continuing drive “to align, as we’ve done in our history, to the latest thinking, and continuing to reinvent ourselves”.

The benefits to BMJ are various, starting with potential financial return, but also fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, driving process innovation, and providing exposure to leading talent and technology in the sector. To be selected, partners must not only have innovative and disruptive solutions that align with BMJ’s core businesses, they must also present a good fit with the BMJ mission and values.

For partners, BMJ New Ventures represents more than investment alone: it facilitates access to various resources and opportunities across BMJ, such as sales and marketing expertise, mentoring and networking, as well as the scale of the brand’s cross-platform audience reach.

“We have a very good database of contacts and a very good network we can tap into to make this collaboration productive, exciting and mutually beneficial,” explained Babor.

Patchwork Digital Health, one of the first investments made by BMJ New Ventures, connects healthcare organisations with a growing marketplace of flexible workers, saving employers millions in recruitment fees. It was founded in 2016 by two doctors and has been successfully piloted in locations including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

BMJ New Ventures identified the business as complementary to its efforts in traditional recruitment, investing in 2018 and subsequent rounds. Close collaboration has ensued, with monthly meetings, transparent communication and BMJ involvement at board level.

Through access to BMJ’s network of clinicians, marketing solutions and content, Patchwork has grown rapidly. The strength of BMJ has also delivered a ‘halo’ effect that has attracted other investors, said Babor, with the brand’s involvement providing indication of a “good, credible investment”.

Among the mutual benefits of the relationship is the establishment of a co-creation team, which has generated adjacent new product opportunities through a series of innovation workshops. With Patchwork registering a three-fold increase in revenues in the past 12 months and doubling its valuation since 2019, the financial indicators also point to the venture being a resounding success.


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