Scott McAllister, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing & Revenue at Time Inc., discusses his team’s focus on moving the needle and redefining how consumers connect with world class content in the digital era.
Can you tell us about your career prior to joining Time Inc.?
I have worked the last fifteen years mainly in the digital space touching elements of marketing, experience building, mobile, social media and analytics with American Express and DELL. I’ve worked across a variety of consumer and small business focused industries, products, and brands. I began my career in finance with GE and also have a Six Sigma Operations Black Belt from that time period.
How have the various roles and industries you’ve worked in prepared you for your current position?
I’ve built a strong background in digital across different verticals, so it has helped prepare me to leverage my breadth of experience and knowledge and apply it in different settings. Additionally, I’m able to draw on some similar experiences with mobile app building and digital media buying to help to bring that to bare for the Time Inc. brands.
“From a marketing perspective, we have pushed aggressively into leveraging digital channels offsite with display, search and social.”
Let’s discuss the modern digital consumer and how the new brand dialogue has affected your industry. Can you tell us how the iconic Time Inc. brand has evolved in response?
Time Inc. brands now reach as many consumers digitally each month as we do with our print products. This tipping point occurred about three months ago, and I don’t think we’ll ever look back. We’re also extending our premium content into new platforms and new revenue streams. For instance, we’re aggressively pushing into the video production space. We are currently on track to deliver more than 10,000 videos across our portfolio this year. With more of our brands producing original content, our overall viewership is growing in triple digits. We’re also furthering our brands’ relationships with consumers by bringing to market exciting new services such as the Cooking Light Diet and the Essence Beauty Box – a product subscription service tailored for African American women, with more to come.
How has your team shifted the way in which you interact with consumers?
Consumers used to mainly come to us through print, but we are now reaching our customers with our world-class content where, when and how they want to be reached. This translates into a heavy focus on our own digital channels, but also through other digital properties such as Facebook and Snapchat. From a marketing perspective, we have pushed aggressively into leveraging digital channels offsite with display, search and social.
“In short, we’re keeping what is iconic and transfers nicely to Digital, while reimagining things where the channel requires differences.”
How have you maintained certain iconic elements of the brand while adapting to the new digital landscape?
There are certain elements that can be held true across channels. For example, as we think of PEOPLE in a magazine or digital format, the iconic blue-branded “PEOPLE” holds true across multiple channels. The content categories that people love, like celebrity style, pets, and royals, holds true. Where things diverge is in usability and user journey. In the digital format, consumers will look to consume things in a different way and many times, there is a difference in how things are presented in print.
In short, we’re keeping what is iconic and transfers nicely to digital while re-imagining content where the channel requires differences.
What were your priorities for your team when you came on board?
I was brought in to think about how to better digitize our consumer marketing efforts at Time Inc. My role is a bit of a mini-chief digital officer for consumer marketing. I have responsibility for digital media, experiences, analytics, capabilities and business development. My biggest priority is to focus our efforts and move the needle meaningfully in each area.
Have you initiated any organizational changes within the marketing department?
I inherited some resources and some open headcount. The team has been realigned to support the strategy now in place.
How do you and your team generate new revenue streams through Time Inc’s Digital content?
For the last few years, a large focus was on selling digital magazine “replicas” through Apple, Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble. We also entered into a joint venture between the largest magazine publishers to create an “all you can eat” service for digital magazines, called Next Issue Media. We recently took on a $50M investment from private equity firm, KKR, to bolster the focus on the business. Most recently we started to create paid content strategies with paywalls to monetize our digital content with Entertainment Weekly, Health and Real Simple. The paywalls on these sites are now live. This is in addition to creating new digital services that can be sold to consumers like Cooking Light Diet – and the forthcoming Sports Illustrated Play, a digital resource for youth and amateur enthusiasts. In short, we are looking at many approaches to take advantage of our world-class brands in new and exciting ways in the digital sphere.
Let’s discuss the multitude of channels through which marketers can interact with their target customers today. How have you woven these digital channels into the overall marketing strategy in order to engage with customers most efficiently at multiple touch points?
Time Inc. has stated publicly that we are making a significant investment in data. Data will help us learn more about our consumers, and help us better target our advertising and marketing to them. We are looking to take our powerful offline database of 150K+, and empower it with digital data. This becomes the central point of knowing the consumer no matter where they are touching our content and enables us to effectively communicate to generate value for them and Time Inc. We are also investing in platforms that leverage that data, to create communication strategies across channels and devices.
We are excited about our progress and key learnings thus far, and know we have a great deal of opportunity ahead to gain the most out of these investments.
Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 CMO Think Tank: Driving Greater Business Impact in the Digital Age in Boston, MA on May 15, 2019