NatMags will this autumn undergo a structural shakeup designed finally to execute a large-scale online strategy. The Hearst subsidiary will focus on two units – one to run its five online-only publications (including Handbag.com and GetLippy.com) and another to jointly manage print-online brands. CEO Duncan Edwards conceded: “We’re real newcomers to digital publishing but, like many, we started looking at this whole area in 1999. In 2000, we got very close to launching a UK version of Women.com – we hired staff we were right at the time of signing a very expensive contract when we got cold feet and pulled out.” Since then, it has acquired Handbag.com and NetDoctor.
– Video NatMags will launch an online TV service, Handbag TV, later this month and aims to roll out similar services across its other brands later. The publisher has bought in web video services from Brightcove for the project.
– Mobile: “Hearst in the States is probably a year ahead of us in terms of mobile versions of mag sites – it’s coming but we’ve got a lot on our plate at the moment. We’re dealing with the internet side before we come on to mobile but I’ve no doubt that we’ll be there in the next year at some stage.”
– Lateness: NatMags was slow to engage in digital publishing, but: “Overall, we don’t regret it. The reason we bought rather than (built) was about speed – we were starting from a position where we had almost no expertise whatsoever in the UK and for us to build to get to the same level and scale we’re at now was a very daunting prospect. The ability to buy really good quality assets at reasonable prices meant we could get to a position much more quickly than we would have done had we tried to build that organically.”
One of NatMags’ most recent online-only launches, teen girl-focused Jellyfish, was folded in August (see earlier post).