Time Inc. taps into its inner Silicon Valley

December 22nd, 2014|

DIGIDAY, December 22, 2014 - Time Inc. isn’t alone in catching up to Silicon Valley in its approach to product development. Hearst Magazines’ “fail fast” mantra informs recent magazine launches including HGTV and Food Network Magazine that use lean staffs and publishing partners that have built-in awareness and audiences. Still, the MVP [Minimum Viable Product] approach is foreign to the traditional publishing culture, with its tradition of lengthy and expensive product development, said Peter Kreisky, chairman of the Kreisky Media Consultancy. “It’s fear of failure,” he said. “They have a very high profile in the marketplace, so every product they launch has high visibility. If you’re a big company like Time or Hearst, everybody sort of jumps on you.” It’s easier for Time Inc. to adopt this approach now than it would have been a decade ago, though, said Reed Phillips, managing partner of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips. “They had a whole magazine development staff, and they were tasked with starting new magazines like InStyle and Entertainment Weekly,” he said. “The way startups were done back then, it was very slow and methodical and might have included direct-mail tests and newsstand tests. Now, it is more fast and furious. Let’s put it out there and see how people will react. A lot of these things are not going to be new magazines; they’re going to be apps and things that are more conducive to testing quickly.”