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Joe Ripp, Time Inc.’s CEO, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, “We Are Putting Emphasis On Wherever The Customer Wants The Content…” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview

October 15, 2015

CN Tower photo by Samir Husni

The Mr. Magazine™ Reports from the FIPP 40th Congress in Toronto, Canada.

“We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years.” Joe Ripp


When Joe Ripp speaks, media people listen. After all, he is the head of the largest magazine media company in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Joe was the keynote speaker at the the 40th FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Canada, and in typical Joe Ripp style he told the audience that when folks at Time Inc. were questioning him about what the company founder Henry Luce would think about all the changes he is making at Time Inc., Mr. Ripp had one answer, “Who cares, Henry Luce is dead.” It was the the new style of forward-looking leadership and full-steam ahead attitude that the leader of Time Inc. has in place as he surges ahead with the new and improved Time Inc. after its separation from Time Warner.

After his keynote, Joe and I discussed the great success of Time Inc.’s bookazine titles and the fact that the magazine division is opening up its portals and looking at the many platforms that Time Inc. offers to its many brands. Audience first has always been paramount with Time Inc., but never more so than now as the company is determined to offer the consumption of its content on whatever platform its readers want.

So, first is my Mr. Magazine™ minute with Joe after his speech and later my interview with him about some new exciting information that was released later in the day. So sit down and relax and watch this Mr. Magazine™ Minute with Joe Ripp and then read the transcript of the interview, plus the additional questions-and-answers with Mr. Ripp at the later part of the blog entry.

We also talked about the news that Wallpaper* Magazine is moving across the Atlantic and making its debut in the United States, with the launch of a U.S. bespoke edition of Wallpaper* which will significantly increase U.S.-related content to Wallpaper.com.

The launch of Wallpaper* U.S. Bespoke Edition on November 1 coincides with the 200th issue of the international design, fashion and lifestyle title. The new print edition will be delivered four times a year to 250,000 young, affluent consumers in major markets throughout the United States. Digitally, Wallpaper.com reaches 500K consumers each month and has a social following of more than 2 million. With the launch of the U.S. edition, that reach is expected to grow significantly.

And now the Mr.Magazine™ interview with Joe Ripp, CEO, Time Inc.

But first, the sound-bites:

On plans to bring Wallpaper* Magazine from the U.K. to the United States: Yes, we’re very excited about that. It’s the first crossover from our British compatriots.

On why the selection of Wallpaper* with so many other titles the company has in the U.K.: Wallpaper* has a very large international following; people around the world follow it and love it.

On the enormous volume of bookazines that Time Inc. puts out each month: I believe we have 182,000 pockets out there in supermarkets where we sell bookazines. Bookazines are highly profitable for Time Inc. We publish them for many other publishers; we work with National Geographic, for instance and other publishers, creating content around them. They’re highly-priced; they help the distribution chain and the distributors love them because it’s helping to fuel profitability there.

On why he thinks bookazines sell so well: They sell because of the richness of our archives. We have the most incredible content in our archives. And for the most part the bookazines can come from that. However, we recently did one on the Pope’s visit to the United States. I actually gave a copy to the Pope.

On where he sees the future distribution of Time Inc.’s content heading: As a platform agnostic company, Time Inc. is really heading for distribution of its content to whatever platform is available. Our audiences have not had any lack of interest in what we produce, there’s more interest in our content than there’s ever been before.

On whether the company is going to place less emphasis on print or will it be equal attention to all of its platforms: We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years.

On why, if media people are supposedly the most creative people around, it took five or six years for the industry to recognize the credibility of his plan for the future of Time Inc.’s content: I don’t think it had anything to do with the media people; I think it was the structure of Time Inc. within Time Warner. At Time Warner there was a video division and there was a division that dealt with the Internet, and so Time Inc. was told: you’re the magazine division. It’s that label that was the problem, because once you define yourself by your distribution vehicle, then you’re stuck with that vehicle. So, when Time Inc. said that it wanted to grow its websites, the response was, well, you don’t really need to do that, you’re a magazine company.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Joe Ripp, CEO, Time Inc.

Samir Husni: I just learned that there are plans to bring Wallpaper* to the United States.

Wallaper_200th_CMYK2-1 Joe Ripp: Yes, we’re very excited about that. It’s the first crossover from our British compatriots. Wallpaper* is a great magazine, and as you know, it was started in the U.K. and now we’re bringing it in to the United States and we’re going to be talking about that very shortly.

Samir Husni: From all the titles that you have in the U.K., why Wallpaper*?

Joe Ripp: Wallpaper* has a very large international following; people around the world follow it and love it. And we think there’s a great opportunity for U.S. advertisers to reach the audiences who love it in the U.S. and we’ll distribute it even further here now.

Samir Husni: May we talk a little bit about bookazines? Time Inc. is putting out, by last count, at least 15 or 20 titles every month…

Joe Ripp: I believe we have 182,000 pockets out there in supermarkets where we sell bookazines. Bookazines are highly profitable for Time Inc. We publish them for many other publishers; we work with National Geographic, for instance and other publishers, creating content around them. They’re highly-priced; they help the distribution chain and the distributors love them because it’s helping to fuel profitability there. They’re also very profitable for the retail establishments, the supermarkets and other venues where they’re sold. And consumers love them because they have great content produced from our archives for the most part, about particular topics of importance.

Samir Husni: And why do you think they’re selling so well? I looked at the numbers and one of the highest selling ones was Time: D-Day, which actually used the same cover that was used on TIME Magazine on the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Joe Ripp: They sell because of the richness of our archives. We have the most incredible content in our archives. And for the most part the bookazines can come from that. However, we recently did one on the Pope’s visit to the United States. I actually gave a copy to the Pope.

So, the reality is there’s a tremendous number of things, pop cultural events and others, which we can create content around, because we can come up with a bookazine within three days. When Robin Williams died, three days later we had on the newsstand two bookazines about his life, his movies and his death. And that sold very, very well because there was a huge interest in that subject.

Samir Husni: Where do you see the future of distribution with Time Inc.’s content heading?

Joe Ripp: As a platform agnostic company, Time Inc. is really heading for distribution of its content to whatever platform is available. Our audiences have not had any lack of interest in what we produce, there’s more interest in our content than there’s ever been before. There’s just less people interested in printed pages. So, by growing our digital audiences and by growing our video output, by growing our conferences and events, there’s more ways for consumers who love the things that we produce, to interact with us and that’s what we’re doing.

Samir Husni: Does that mean you’re going to put less emphasis on print or all platforms will be equal?

Joe Ripp: We’re going to put emphasis on wherever the customer wants to consume content. If customers like our print products, we’ll continue to sell them. Print isn’t going away; it’s going to be around for the next 50 years. It’s still a very significant part of our business and it will be for the next 25 years. But the reality is there are other areas of growth for us and we’ve ignored those for years and we’re going into those areas right now and that’s why our digital audiences are growing substantially; our video and mobile audiences are growing substantially, because we are recognizing the fact that our print product has incredible content that can be distributed quite easily in other formats for distribution.

Samir Husni: Supposedly, the most creative people on the face of the earth are media people. If that’s true, why do you think it took us five or six years to discover this fact that you’re preaching now?

Joe Ripp: I don’t think it had anything to do with the media people; I think it was the structure of Time Inc. within Time Warner. At Time Warner there was a video division and there was a division that dealt with the Internet, and so Time Inc. was told: you’re the magazine division. It’s that label that was the problem, because once you define yourself by your distribution vehicle, then you’re stuck with that vehicle. So, when Time Inc. said that it wanted to grow its websites, the response was, well, you don’t really need to do that, you’re a magazine company. When we wanted to get involved in video projects, the response was, well, you’re not the video department, go talk to the studios; they’ll do that for you.

The reality is we were a content company. It was the definition of ourselves by a distribution vehicle that was what limited our ability to distribute across multiple formats.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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