Joe Ripp Addresses Time Inc.’s Year

By Chris O'Shea Comment

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Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp has sent his “year in review” memo to staffers, so we took the liberty of pulling some highlights. Below are some of the more interesting points, followed by the full note.

  • Through October, “multi-platform audiences” are up 19 percent compared to 2014
  • Programmatic solutions and third-party ad deals are up more than 65 percent compared to last year
  • For the first time, four separate issues of People earned more than 40 percent of market share
  • Time Inc. will experiment with price testing next year
  • There are now more than 600 staffers at Time Inc.’s Bangalore location

This activity-filled year has required a great deal of effort and energy from all of us at Time Inc. as we reposition ourselves as a broader media company. As 2015 comes to a close, I thank you for your hard work and dedication. Together, we’ve achieved significant objectives that reflect the progress across our organization.

First and foremost, we remain focused on maintaining the highest standards of editorial excellence. The best reporting of the year has included Time’s coverage of Donald Trump and the attacks in Paris; the in-depth investigative report by Fortune on the hacking scandal at Sony; Sports Illustrated’s exclusive interview with Michael Phelps; Entertainment Weekly’s 32-page package devoted to the new Star Wars; Cooking Light’s first-ever celebrity cover in its history, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama; Country Life’s November 11 issue guest-edited by the Prince of Wales; and People’s many record-breaking covers, as well as its recent exclusive interview and images of Sandra Bullock’s newly adopted daughter. Our journalism, which has been recognized with 140 awards this year, is a testament to the highly engaging premium content that sets us apart from other news and media organizations.

While we have maintained our editorial excellence, we have continued to reinvent content creation and have become more efficient in the process. In 2015, we issued the first-ever standardized rights agreements with our photographers. We formed the Time Inc. Food Studio in Birmingham, the largest and most sophisticated food studio complex in the United States, and created a new test kitchen and food hub across several of the UK’s lifestyle brands.

In 2015, we leveraged Time Inc.’s editorial excellence to accelerate our traffic growth. Through October, our global multi-platform audiences have grown to 155 million, up 19% year over year. Our social footprint rose 45% to 180 million, and our video audience jumped 86%. We continued our aggressive video programming and distribution push with new partners like Hulu, Yahoo and Zealot Networks, and we have made across-the-board gains in viewership, reach and engagement. With a new 3,000-square-foot soundstage at 225 Liberty Street, we are greatly expanding our video capabilities, including doubling our live production.

We made significant investments to participate in the rapid growth of custom content and native solutions. We established the Foundry in Brooklyn, which launched The Drive, a new vertical aimed at auto enthusiasts. We plan to introduce additional verticals and capture our share of this growing market in the years ahead.

In print, we faced continuing headwinds with major advertisers, as print advertising has declined this year. We are confident that we can offset this trend with the continuing growth of our digital, video and native advertising businesses over the long term. For example, we have continued to aggressively expand our high-touch and hyper-targeted programmatic solutions and third-party advertising deals, which are up over 65% year over year.

We made significant progress with People on the newsstand. In 2015, for the first time ever, four issues of People garnered over 40% market share. Our overall market share continued to rise, with People’s share now exceeding 35%.

We have begun extensive price testing in the marketplace, and that testing will continue into 2016. So far, the results have proved to be very positive for us.

We hired our first Chief Data Officer and began to incorporate and sell data solutions in our offerings to advertisers. Data is a key to targeting individuals and customizing both content and marketing messages—especially on mobile devices. This year, we deployed Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the first new CRM system in the company in years. This new system allows us to deliver highly targeted messaging to our customers across all segments.

We launched products that have promising futures, including the Time Inc. Style Network, the Cooking Light Diet program, Essence Beauty Box, Money College Planner, The People Shop and People en Español Clubs. Thanks to these new tools we can sell multiple products to our existing customer base. With the addition of insights provided by our data initiatives, we will become more successful at responding to consumers’ passions and obtaining a greater share of their wallets.

We rolled out paid content strategies at Entertainment Weekly, Health, Real Simple and Time, and we have learned a lot about visitor registration and payment propensity. At the same time, we continue to experiment with new content distribution channels. In 2015, we fostered new partnerships with Apple and Facebook to reach new audiences that desire trusted, proven, high-quality content.

At our Tampa operations, we embarked on a plan to expand our customer base and reduce fixed costs. As a result, we have generated millions of dollars of new revenue from various clients in the print industry.

This year we made substantial investments in our business that will pave the way for our future growth. We launched Sports Illustrated Play to extend our franchise into youth sports and made a notable investment in the events business with the purchase of inVNT. Our unique ability to provide memorable experiences for our passionate audiences makes us an even more attractive strategic partner for global advertisers.

We also invested in FanSided to expand the Sports Illustrated franchise, and we bought HelloGiggles, a mobile and social-first millennial women’s lifestyle site that extends the reach of our Entertainment Network—People and Entertainment Weekly—as well as xoJane and xoVain.

At Time Inc. UK, we have stabilized the business and are poised for growth. The launch of Equo improves our penetration of the UK equestrian market. The launches of POWDER and theROOMedit.com extend our position in the beauty and home categories. The purchase of UK Cycling Events positions Cycling Weekly as the go-to destination for UK cycling. The acquisition of the International Craft & Hobby Fair Events Company increases our ability to connect with the more than 18 million UK crafters. And the relaunch of NME as a free weekly increases distribution and broadens touchpoints with millennials.

We continue to deepen and broaden our capabilities at Time Inc. India. We’ve made key hires at senior levels and now have more than 600 employees in Bangalore.

We have implemented a new rights management system; deployed Workday, the first-ever company-wide HR system; implemented PeopleSoft financials in the UK; deployed Microsoft 360 across the entire company; developed the new TORO platform to allow for more rapid deployment of apps for our products; introduced search capabilities for our websites to increase the revenue potential from our digital properties; moved our data centers to the cloud and deployed paid content technologies.

We sold the Blue Fin building in London, and we just completed a historic move to our new headquarters at 225 Liberty Street in lower Manhattan. Company-wide, we’ve executed 10 office moves this year. I recognize and appreciate the tireless planning done and contributions made by many within our ranks to make these transitions flawless. The new environments look terrific and are already facilitating greater collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship within Time Inc.

Among Time Inc.’s most important accomplishments this year was attracting and retaining high-caliber talent. From EVPs, editors and GMs to publishers, producers and presidents and hundreds of others, each of our new hires is a valuable addition to our team and brings a new level of excitement to our company.

Our 2015 achievements reinforce the power of our brands, our unmatched relationships with our audiences and the innovative offerings we create for our customers. Most importantly, you are the best in the business. As we head into 2016, we must all stay focused and be supportive of each other. You can be confident, as am I, that our best days are ahead of us.

I wish you and your families a happy holiday.

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