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The secrets of Future’s success

Future has been one of publishing’s success stories over the past few years. How did they do it?

The secrets of Future’s success

Writer’s block! That’s what I had yesterday afternoon as I searched about for something to write about for today’s newsletter. So, looking for inspiration, I went onto the AOP website, as you do, and found a really good podcast interview.

In it, the AOP’s Richard Reeves talked to Nick Flood, global ad product & revenue operations director at Future about ‘Building an optimised mix of reader revenue strategies’.

It was a fascinating chat in which Nick provided an insight into the culture at Future and what lies behind their success.

It was only after listening to it and writing this piece that I spotted that the podcast was actually published in 2021. Oops.

Too late in the day to start again, so please indulge me just this once, as I share my possibly slightly dated learnings with you now.

Based on what Nick had to say, ahem… last year, here are my top tips on how you too can be like them:

  1. Invest in content. Consumers are so strapped for time that publishers’ offerings have simply got to be good.
  2. Invest in product teams. You can create the best content in the world, but you’ve still got to monetise it, so having switched-on experienced product management teams is essential.
  3. Diversify your revenues. Those publishers that have diversified revenue streams are best placed to succeed. Future’s revenue streams include subs and membership, advertising, events, content licensing and video production, lead generation, e-commerce and affiliate across not only traditional publishing products but across financial services (GoCompare) too.
  4. Own the reader relationship. Get users to transact on your own platforms so that you are in control of the whole transaction, beginning to end, and the valuable first party data that comes with it.
  5. Invest in tech. Future has a considerable tech team and has, over the years, created their own tech solutions, including Hawk, Vanilla, Falcon, Hybrid and Aperture. They took a conscious decision to develop systems in-house, thereby allowing them to plot their own destiny.
  6. Embrace a company wide data culture. Future has a wealth of data and has managed to distil it down to what really matters and the whole company buys into it. The philosophy is that “everyone rows the boat together”.
  7. Invest in the best talent. When he joined Future last year, Nick found an exceptionally talented team with some of the best people he’s worked with during his seventeen years in the industry.

Great stuff, and dare I say it, as relevant today as it was, err, twelve months ago.

Some of this is, Nick conceded, “easier said than done”, but you don’t have to be a huge company to make a start. Some of the tech stacks mentioned above were developed before Future’s recent growth spurt. It’s all about setting your direction of travel.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.