Hachette Filipacchi Makes Major Move Toward Mobile

New Hire Olivier Griot Sees a 'Full-Fledged Revenue Stream'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Although almost every magazine publisher is pushing into cellphone programs, it isn't clear whether anyone can make real money from the smallest screen. But Olivier Griot, who was just named managing director for mobile services at Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. after leaving a similar post at Hearst Magazines, thinks cellphones are about to become magazines' next big center.
Hachette Filipacchi's new managing director for mobile services believes there is serious money to be made in publishing to cellphone screens.
Hachette Filipacchi's new managing director for mobile services believes there is serious money to be made in publishing to cellphone screens.

In an interview with MediaWorks, Mr. Griot lays out his thoughts.

MediaWorks: Can mobile really produce meaningful profits for magazine publishers?

Olivier Griot: Mobile is a great engagement tool and it's a way to make our readership more loyal to our brands. But definitely we are in the business because we view it as a revenue center, a full-fledged revenue stream.

Certainly for Shock our expectation is that, as is happening in France, a large part of the revenue will come from Web and mobile -- potentially as much as half of the total revenue of the magazine itself.

One of the big things about mobile is that consumers are used to paying for content, so that gives us a way to create subscription revenue streams. We are also seeing our advertising clients being extremely interested in having the ability to send their marketing messages across platforms. They want print ad pages, Web banner ads and mobile ads.

MediaWorks: Will magazines really work on mobile platforms? People are not going to read a long New Yorker piece on their phones.
Olivier Griot, who held a similar post at Hearst Magazines, has been hired by Hachette as its managing director for mobile services.
Olivier Griot, who held a similar post at Hearst Magazines, has been hired by Hachette as its managing director for mobile services.

Mr. Griot: I agree that you will never read a six-page article on your cellphone screen -- that would be torture. But your cellphone screen can be helpful in interacting with the magazine. There could be a poll in the magazine you're reading on your way to work that you want to vote in right away. We want our readers to have great involvement with their favorite brands. It gives them a voice.

And you might also consume news and entertainment on your phone under a magazine brand that isn't suitable for the magazine itself. Mobile and the Web bring us new ways to let our readers interact with our brands.

MediaWorks: How broadly can mobile extend across magazines? Hachette's forthcoming Shock makes an obvious mobile play, given the young people that will read it, but what about Woman's Day or Metropolitan Home?

Mr. Griot: We're going to be discriminating in picking and choosing which brands are most suitable to have mobile extensions. Clearly today it's those magazines that skew younger because, as you pointed out, the demographic today that uses the mobile services tend to be quite younger.

But that's changing quite rapidly. Two years ago the only people who used text messaging were kids, high school students, college kids. That's changed dramatically. That's going up in age quite a bit. For other types of cellphone use, like mobile Internet browsing and games, we're seeing all demographics joining. That opens new opportunities for us.

It's not just going to be Shock, it's going to be Elle Girl and probably Premiere. We're also looking at For Me and at the road group magazines like Car and Driver.

It's not impossible that we might choose to create a Woman's Day mobile service where we make it easy for them sign up by calling in instead of texting. There are ways to adapt the service to what the reader is used to doing.

The content of the magazine matters as well. The content drives the service. Metropolitan Home magazine or Elle Decor, which really rely on beautiful large photography, might not be as suitable for mobile.

MediaWorks: Do fresh, young, pure-play wireless content providers have advantages over magazine publishers?

Mr. Griot: If you look at what's happening in the digital world with MySpace and YouTube, you'll find that some companies that have been incredibly successful with community sites or user-generated content. There's this general sense that it's all about empowering the individuals, that if people want control of their programming, you'll have this vast democracy of opinions and the best will rise to the top.

We feel very strongly that we aren't going to create mobile-only services. These are platforms that will leverage the brands and print magazines that we have.

There is value in having these three platforms: print, online and mobile phones. It's a way for us to keep in touch with readers wherever they are in any circumstance they may be in and really send the content that's best adapted to their usage and where they are at any point in time.

And one of our core assets is our editorial voice. Our readers in print trust us to give advice and give them news, or are looking to our editors to essentially edit their lives. Web and mobile give readers the ability to interact with us, so we will build their voices into our brands, but we will never lose sight of our brands.

We'll never try to be a me-too MySpace or a community that's just user-generated. We'll leverage this incredible credibility that we have. That will be a strong differentiating factor as we roll out these mobile services.

MediaWorks: What's first for you at Hachette, and what's after that?

Mr. Griot: We are definitely focused on the Shock launch at the end of May; we are gearing up to have the mobile content up in June.

The mobile component for Elle Girl is going to be beefed up as well. There have been some one-offs in the past but we're going to look at building permanent year-round programs -- and of course keep those promotional spikes.

Then there is a raft of other magazines that I'm starting to look at, like For Me, Elle, Premiere, the men's titles. It's like drinking from a fire hose.
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