With a strong background in production and planning, Chris Couchman’s career over the past 10 years has included heading up projects and operations for News UK, Zest Media Group and Time Inc. UK.
Now the Head of content for the digital magazine’s app Readly, Chris is personally responsible for the complete management of publishers across all English Language and Nordic Markets. (UK & Ireland, Asia Pacific, North America and Nordics).
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John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian. We’re so excited and honored to have with us today, Chris Couchman. He’s the head of content at Readly. You can find Readly at readly.com. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Chris.
Chris Couchman: Hey, John. How are you doing? Nice to be here.
John: Well, it’s nice to have you with us. It looks like the sun is coming into your room. The sun coming into my room. We’re having this. We feel like we’re in one room together, actually, but we’re on different parts of the planet. You’re sitting in a beautiful spot in Ireland and I’m sitting in Fresno, California today.
Chris: Yeah, it’s lovely here. I think this must be the few weeks of sun we actually get in Ireland. I was saying it’s lovely and warm here but our warm is probably your normal. So, it’s all good.
John: Yeah. Well, it sounds wonderful. Ireland is one of these places. I’ve been around the world many times in my business and personal life. I’ve never been to Ireland, and when I see the sun shining on your face, I just remind myself, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go and visit.
Chris: You’re more than welcome. You’re more than welcome. We love people to come over here. I mean, I’ve only been here a month. I moved out of London and came here, brought the family, and we’ve been welcomed with open arms, as much as we’re allowed in COVID times [inaudible].
Chris: Yeah. It’s a beautiful corner of the world.
John: That’s so wonderful. Chris, before we get talking about all the really important and interesting things you and your colleagues are doing at Readly, talk a little bit about your background. How do you even get here? Where were you raised? What was your education and your family life that led to you becoming a very important part of Readly?
Chris: Yeah. I mean, I was born just outside London. I was there for 30 odd[?] years like I say until we moved over to Ireland a month ago. In my education, well,[?] I did a film TV and radio production degree down in Canterbury in England. Simply because I had no idea on what I wanted to do and it sounded like something that I would be vaguely interested in. It was three years. I have no idea what I did but I had great fun doing it. I came out with an expensive piece of paper and still no idea what I wanted to do. To be honest, my dad was in publishing. He was a sort of one of these old one company guys. He was with the company for 42, 43 years before he retired. Actually, they had a job available. To be honest with you, when I came out and at the time, it’s[?] all I wanted to do is work and run a pub and buy pubs and that was what I wanted to do, but I needed money and I didn’t have any.
Chris: The publishing was the thing that my dad had always done and I thought, well, the company has been good to him. Maybe they’ll be good to me. I went over there and I was there for nearly five years and I’ve worked with an amazing group of guys in their production department. Effectively, print and paper buying and scheduling and all that sort of stuff for a whole mass of magazines. A company called IPC Media at the time. They were then bought they became Time and now they’re actually owned by Future. I worked with them. I mean, it was a brilliant group of guys, all sort of been there for 30, 40 years, taught me loads about the industry. Everything I know from the magazine and the publishing industry, I can trace all the way back to those guys because they’ve been in it forever.
Chris: I’ve heard many old war stories from their heydays in the ’70s, in the ’80s, in the ’90s. They kept telling me I’d missed the best of it and all the rest of it. But I’m sure I could tell some of my guys that they’ve missed the best of it 10 years ago, you know?
John: Right. Right, right.
Chris: I learned loads from those guys. But eventually, something came along that I thought might be a little bit better and I moved away from the magazine industry and I went into the newspaper industry. So, I went to work for News International which is now News UK.
Chris: I went to work for the Times of London, the Sunday Times and The Sun[?] newspapers and all their magazines that were a part of it and spend a lot of time again, sort of print and paper buying and scheduling the newspapers and working on promos and that kind of stuff. Again, learned loads about the newspaper industry from people who have been in it forever.
Chris: I think that was amazing things that we don’t have so much with COVID and working from home.
Chris: I was[?] sitting in the offices and just learning from people who’ve have been in the industry for so many years. But I think you learn a lot from not being in conversations, from actually, just overhearing the stuff going on and you [inaudible] [crosstalk] so much up I think it was–
Chris: That was really how I kind of learned my craft as it were and where I learned my love for publishing. From being in the magazine side of it, and then in the newspaper side of things. Then actually, I was very lucky I had the opportunity to move to a small publisher in North London and I ran a production department there and an art department. Again, it was brilliant and I worked with a really young team and it was really exciting. We’re having meetings in the pub at lunchtime and it was brilliant and then, you know. But that’s actually where I found Readly.
Chris: In that little publisher in North London. A guy came and actually pitched Readly to me at the time and I sat through the presentation and I thought, well, this sounds great. This is something that seems like the future and how things are moving on and at kind of thing and I thought, well, yeah, all right, so I put the magazines I was looking after at the time. I put those on to Readly and I managed those for about a year. And then after that year, actually, a job ad came up for Readly, and they were looking for an Operations Manager at the time, to come in and look after some publishers in the UK and Ireland. I just called the guy who came and pitched to me a year ago and I’ve just phoned him up and said, “I’ve got no digital experience. All my experience is in print and paper. Is there any way that you think I might be good for this role?” We interviewed and I found out that just because I had no digital experience, necessarily a little bit, but I had transferable skills and I had negotiation that I was used to.
Chris: I just generally love talking to people which [crosstalk] kind of help in my job.
Chris: Luckily enough, got that job, moved over to Readly, moved over to the dark side, which is what they used to, you know, the guys that I used to work with, the dark side of digital rather than the golden print products that the publishers are so used to. I’ve been with Readly for three and a half years.
Chris: I absolutely love it here. I get to look after– My role now as Head of Content, I look after all of our publishers in our English language market. So, the US, the UK, Australia, with some in India, and then also the Nordics. Then Sweden and places like that, which is where the company was founded back in 2013. I spent all my days talking to publishers and sorting stuff out. Yeah, it’s great here.
John: But it’s so interesting. First of all, you’ve gone into the digital media side of, really, your father’s industry. So, really, there’s [crosstalk] a generational transfer of knowledge and information as well.
John: Plus you got great experience from all these legendary lions, legacy lions[?] [crosstalk] of the industry both on the print side, magazine side, and then the newspaper side, and then you got pitched.
John: How was that original pitch when he pitched you to put your pubs on to Readly? What was that elevator pitch like? I love to hear that.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, he just came in and he said, “Look, you guys aren’t doing anything digital. The stuff that you are doing isn’t really generating you any revenue or readership, and we’ve got this amazing product called Readly. It’s an all-you-can-read product.” He said it’s, you know, at the time he pitched it, it’s a bit like Spotify and a bit like Netflix, but for magazines. Because at the time, we were pretty much a solely magazine product. We’ve now introduced newspapers to it as well. He just said, “If you put the titles onto the platform, then we’ll bring you additional readership and we’ll bring you additional revenue.” Honestly, I was slightly skeptical at the time because I was print through and through and [crosstalk] didn’t really understand the benefits.
Chris: The more I looked at it and the more I thought about it, and I was shown lots of stuff about how the different audience would come across and it wasn’t going to take away from my print subscribers, it will just going to bring me new audience, and also with the brilliant thing about Readly is, we were struggling to get our publications outside of the UK.
Chris: Because it’s expensive to distribute whereas [crosstalk] on Readly, you put it on Readly, it’s available in over 50 different markets.
Chris: So, we could do whatever we wanted.
John: It sounded like it’s almost too good to be true. So, you were thinking to yourself, “What’s the catch here?” Like [inaudible] [crosstalk]
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I completely [crosstalk] understand it.
John: Like what’s the catch?
Chris: Yeah, what’s the catch? I couldn’t really get my purely print brain at the time [crosstalk] [inaudible] the Readly product.
Chris: I had to be sort of told a little bit about it and it works for me because now, I’m on the other side of the fence.
John: Well, now you’re him. You’re him.
Chris: I’m the guy. Yeah, I’m the guy pitching the products to publishers now and my account managers, I’m having to teach them how to do it.
Chris: I get publishers to come to me and go, “Yeah, yeah. But what’s the catch? Why? Why would I do it? How much is it going to cost me?”
Chris: That was one of the things I– you know, how much does it cost me to join Readly? Nothing. It’s free. If you’re a publisher, it doesn’t cost you anything to put your titles[?] on Readly.
John: It’s almost like you said, it’s like a Spotify or Netflix and that the content’s created once anyway and the publisher now gets a new chance on a new platform to monetize and get new eyeballs[?] and monetize that content over and over again for no extra cost. No extra SG&A[?]. Amazing.
Chris: That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it.
Chris: Publishers are creating all this amazing content and they have been churning this stuff out for years and years and years. We are simply another way of distributing that amazing content to a different set of eyeballs, that may not go to the newsstands and buy that product but they are really, subscribers. We’re getting people, you know, we’ve done customer surveys that show that we’ve got over 95% of people are discovering new magazines on the platform. So, just because you joined Readly for a specific set of titles, you will discover plenty of other stuff that’s on there.
Chris: If you’re a Forbes reader or a Rolling Stone reader, but you’re also interested in woodwork, you may never have bought a woodworking magazine, but we’ve got Popular Woodworking on the platform so you can go and you can start reading it. So, you can really delve into your interests and kind of read around a lot of different titles and also internationally. It works amazingly for people that perhaps live in the US, but they’re from the UK like myself, and they want to read local newspapers, The Guardian or the Express and we have that ability for people to read international content.
John: When they first pitched you and you put your pubs upon it, back then, how many publications were then on the platform? And now, take us to today, 2021. How many were on [inaudible]?
Chris: Yeah, I think when I joined, we were 1500, 2000 publications, something like that. Today, five and a half thousand publications are on the platform. We’ve got five and a half thousand publications, just over 150,000 issues because we don’t just keep the new issues on the platform. We also keep the back catalog.
John: Oh, wow.
Chris: So, if you really are interested in airplanes, or model railways, for example, or simply, recipes for food, you can delve into the back catalog so you can start reading stuff that might be four, five, six years old, but it’s evergreen content. These publishers have had this stuff stuck on their desktops on CDs, floppy disks, back in the day and they’ve never been using it. So, we have the ability to that archive and give it to a customer who will continually enjoy that content. I mean, their data and the stats that we’ve got show that over 20% of people reading on Readly are back issue content anyway. So, we know people are going back and they’re interested in that side of things.
John: If you’ve just joined us, we’ve got Chris Couchman with us. He’s the Head of Content for Readly. To find Chris and his colleagues, and to check out Readly and their app, go to www.readly.com. Readly, readly.com. I’m on your site right now, Chris. It’s a beautiful site.
Chris: Thank you.[?]
John: Now, I’ve never used[?] it. I’ve never used it yet. For me, as a consumer who loves to read, how much does this cost?
Chris: Yeah, so in the States, it’s $9.99. So, $9.99 a month, and for that, you get to read as much or as little as you like. It’s totally up to you and like I said, it’s over 5000 titles, international and domestic content that are on there, and that’s the product. It’s as simple as that.
John: I mean, it sounds credible.
Chris: Sign off[?] the way you go. Yeah.
John: It sounds incredible for [inaudible] [crosstalk]
Chris: Thank you very much.
John: No. I mean, there’s no way I’m not going to do this and give it out as gifts to my family because I mean, this is like the gift of knowledge and the ability to read and see all these topics and all these subject matters. I mean, you spend– Now, you go to a magazine stand, you buy one, maybe two periodicals and you’re already in for over ten bucks there. Just there.
Chris: Yeah, completely and we also have the– we have a sharing functionality on there as well. So, if you take out your subscription for $9.99, you get the ability to use it across five devices so you can share it with the wife. You can share it with the kids [crosstalk] because we’ve got children’s content on there.
Chris: We’ve got comics and kid’s magazines so they can read that while you’re reading Rolling Stone or the wife might be reading US Weekly or something like that.
John: That’s so great.
Chris: So, we [inaudible] something for everyone on there, really.
John: There’s even like you said, you’ve made it friend and family-friendly, for a lack of better term.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. The idea here is that everyone can read it. We’re a for a Swedish-owned company, the Swedes are very much into family orientation, and bringing it together, and they’re exactly what Readly is. It’s something for everyone. We’ve got parental controls on there as well. So, if you are worried about the kids seeing content that perhaps you don’t want them to see, stick parental controls on there. No problem at all. So they can go and they can read without any worries.
John: So, tell me. Chris, what am I missing here? A, you’re democratizing knowledge, which is so much value to that and I’m so grateful that you’re doing that.
John: B, you’re also not only democratizing knowledge, but you’re also making it more available to more people than I’ve ever seen before. C, this has to be amazing for the environment because now, we’re not also always tossing out our old newspaper, magazine, or worried about how to recycle it appropriately. This removes that whole issue of recycling all the paper that’s involved in the historical legacy publishing industry. Am I missing something?
Chris: No, no. The sustainability thing is, this is exactly what our users tell us. Twenty-five percent of people that use Readly say it’s one of the major benefits and the major reasons that they’re with us. It’s the sustainability and not having stacks of old magazines that you end up throwing out every month. You don’t have that with us. We did a survey recently and out of that, we came out that we are, in emissions compared to print, 76% better off. Now, having said that, the industry as a whole is making huge waves to become more sustainable, to become more eco-friendly, which is absolutely the right thing to do from the digital side of it, the print side of it. Everyone is– we’re all moving that way and as Readly grows and we continue to grow very rapidly at the moment, our responsibility grows[?] to do more of that. So yes, we are a digital platform so we don’t have the print and the paper side of it, but we understand that it’s not just us in the industry that is helping towards the eco and cutting the emissions. The paper industry is doing huge things. They’re planting loads and loads of trees. They’re using recycled pulp. Printers are always looking at being more eco-friendly and how they go about using the machinery and publishers themselves have been focused on sustainability for a long time now.
Chris: They’re always looking for making the right choices on their print and paper, recycling their old copies that come off the newsstands that don’t get bought. An example is, all the plastic subscription packaging that we used to get, that especially, here in the UK, publishers are moving away from plastic and onto paper wrapping because it’s more eco-friendly.
John: Hundred percent.
Chris: I think as an industry we’re doing great things towards it and it’s– we’re a part of it. Absolutely.
Chris: We are referring[?] the ability that if you read on digital, you’re not necessarily buying the print product, but at the same time, the guys who are still going to the newsstands are still buying the print stuff, the publishers are doing it too.
John: Unlike you, I mean, this is not– like you said, my comments were as a just as an amazing alternative [inaudible] [crosstalk] tremendously sustainable.
John: Publishers are my friends. I grew up in that industry, somewhat similar to how you grew up. My dad was in the color separations industry so I got to deal with the advertisers and publishers, my whole childhood and teenage years, and in 20s. And so, to me, this is not to vilify them, it’s just to say, “No, no[?]. Just another great way to access information and is also a great upside to the environment with your product as well and your service as well.
Chris: Yeah, definitely. We are providing all of that knowledge at your fingertips when you want it, how you want to get it, and like I say, we’re another distribution who are putting out [crosstalk] true information that’s justified in publications that people trust.
Chris: There’s so much fake news flying around at the moment and all this rubbish out there.
Chris: This stuff’s been put together and verified and then pulled together and put out as a product. So, why not put that good stuff out there in front of people for them to read it? And if it’s more sustainable and eco-friendly, perfect.
John: How much competition do you have in this space?
Chris: Yes. We do have competition like everywhere else. We have various competitors around the world and small ones in different markets. Some of the big ones that you’ve probably heard of are the likes of Apple News+. You can’t run away from Apple being in your market. You have to see them as a competitor. Then there are other companies that are around there. There’s Zinio and there’s Magzter and those kinds of guys. So, there is some competition out there but we’re all doing something slightly different in a slightly different way. Apple, for example, their News+ service is very article-based, very mobile friendly. Whereas Readly, we’re slightly more full product. Read the magazine and the newspaper exactly as how the publishers want you to read it.
We have the articles, we have the ability for you to read them in a mobile-optimized format. But we do kind of focus on the look how beautiful these products are that the art directors and the teams have spent so much love and care putting together. This is the product, they pulled it together. But if you want to read it in a broken-down way because you want to find something you want to eat for dinner tonight, then you can absolutely just go find that recipe rather than dig through the whole magazine for it.
John: How fast is your subscriber base growing and where are the biggest areas of growth in the world now? Which continents are you seeing the fastest growth on your subscriber base?
Chris: Yeah. The subscriber base is– if you’d ask me this question before September last year, I would have had to give you a politician answer because we weren’t allowed to share numbers but we’ve just become a publicly listed company. So, the numbers are out there now.
John: Oh, I don’t even know that. Okay. Sorry.
Chris: No, no. It’s absolutely fine. The Q1 report went out and we’re just under 400,000 subscribers.
Chris: We grew in the last quarter by 37%.
Chris: We’re growing. We’re growing rapidly. Our biggest markets, the three largest markets, that we have a role[?] in Europe currently. So, it’s Germany, UK, and Sweden, because they’re the markets that we’ve been in the longest, to be honest with you. But we’re seeing great growth across all of our markets internationally. The US, Australia, [inaudible] the Netherlands, all across the world where we’re growing and we’re at speed, which is great because it means we can get more people reading, which I think, is super important.
John: Well, like you just said, you’re big back in your home base, which you always have to win the home. The home team always has to win to start with.
John: But your global addressable market in the US, Asia, and South America have to be massive. I mean, 400,000 sounds like the tip of the iceberg for where you’re really going to take this.
Chris: Oh, absolutely. We’ve got big ambitions and big plans and [crosstalk] we’re in the market and we’re out there and we’re starting to make lots of noise.
Chris: Coming to talking to guys like you, hopefully, it’s going to help us move from that one position and add a few more zeros [inaudible] [crosstalk] that would be very nice.
John: [inaudible] Chris, before we went on the air, we were talking about your recent move from London to Ireland, it sounds just spectacular and wonderful. What you’ve seen in your three and a half years at Readly, how have the reading habits of your subscribers and of the world changed because of COVID? What do you know or what have you seen and learned during this period?
Chris: Yeah, the change is massive. I think the world effectively turned upside down almost overnight and we’ve spent 18 months in and out lockdowns with restrictions and not being able to go into work. As you say, the whole working from home thing has allowed a lot of us to get out of the cities and get out of the rat race and go and do what we want. We see that in Readly in their reading habits. We regularly check what people are reading and kind of how they’re reading it because that’s what we’re interested in. They are the kind of things we can pass on to our publishers and over COVID, what we really saw is that people are spending a lot more time going into their interests. People are very interested in very specific niche categories, and we have all of that available. We have 37 categories on Readly that you can dig into.
Some of the things that we saw, that people are spending a lot more time at home. So, as you can imagine a lot of stuff came out of that. The craft and DIY category, for example, went up by 128%. Home and renovation category up by 84%. Gardening up by 81. I can go on but we can see all of the stuff where people are at home and they’re wanting to do a little bit more because perhaps they got a little bit more free time, they’re not having to spend so much time commuting in and out of work and [crosstalk] [inaudible] more time to spend in their own houses, and their own gardens, and do a bit more.
Chris: But then, like I said, their niche interests and specialties and the biggest one that we saw actually is hobbies and collecting. The hobbies and collecting category went up by 156% in the quarter and that’s a huge thing that we just saw[?] almost overnight. People suddenly went– they’ve got load more time to read. I’ve got loads more time to sit down and get back to the stuff I actually love doing and I want to read a little bit more about it. And people who are– who’ve got hobbies and people who are interested in collecting baseball cards or things like that for example, we’ve got loads of that content available on the platform and people are spending more time in it. Along with that sort of line, of people having more time, we saw the likes of puzzles, and crosswords, and Sudoku puzzles, and all that kind of stuff picked up as well just under 80% of that category came up. We’re seeing people have got a lot more time in COVID. People aren’t spending so much time running around frantically trying to get kids to football or soccer practice I suppose as you’d[?] say. We’re not going out so much anymore. We can’t spend so much time in restaurants and then in bars [crosstalk] and things.
Chris: We’re getting back to basics. We’re looking after the home, looking after the garden, and looking after ourselves a little bit more as well, I think.
John: That’s so fascinating. So, out of this tragic worldwide crisis, that we’ve all–
John: Hopefully, we’re getting to the other side. There are real rays of sunshine because you’re saying that people have gone back to the basics and have simplified their life and reading is now a bigger part of their life than it was pre-COVID.
Chris: That’s exactly it. Yeah.
John: We’ve had the whole world kind of go to park[?] and we’ve all been affected. Nobody’s not been affected by this. I think it’s really given us time to reflect and think back and go, “Well, what do I really want to do? Do I want to carry on in exactly the way that I have been doing it or do I want to move my interest a little bit? Do I want to do a bit more of this that I actually enjoy as opposed to spending so much time on stuff that perhaps I wasn’t enjoying a lot? I’m a perfect example. I was living in London and doing the rat race and spending an hour and a half commuting to work. Either way, three hours of my day was wasted on public transport. Now I’ve moved to a beautiful little corner of the world in Ireland. I had my home office and I played[?] around and walk down to it every day. I’m going to enjoy commuting back to London and seeing some of our clients and that will be great in London, but I’m enjoying being here with family.
John: You’re a young man and that you have a young family and you get to actually have a real life.
Chris: Yes. Exactly. I mentioned the family, I’ve got three-month-old daughter so I can bring her up in fresh air as opposed to whatever London air is.
Chris: We can enjoy what’s around us and spend a little bit more time together rather than focusing so much on all the other stuff.
John: Just imagine. Just imagine our predecessors, who for 40 years, whether you’re in New York or London or any other great city, which has, as you and I both know, and I grew up in New York City, has so many wonderful benefits to it.
Chris: Oh God, yes.
John: But it does become a rat race when you do 40 years times three hours a day. Think about all the hours you could have spent or would have spent traveling, commuting as opposed to with your wife, with your children, your daughter right now, and hopefully, other children in the future. For anybody to now be simplifying their life and having more chance to read and pursue their interests and actually have a real life, it just sounds– sounds like there are some good changes and good opportunities that are coming out of the post-COVID world.
John: So, that’s great. That’s great.
Chris: Yeah, I think so. I think it’s fast-forwarded change that I think was all becoming.
Chris: Not just in our personal lives [crosstalk] but also I think in the publishing industry and for everyone else, we sort of realized that this was coming anyway.
Chris: We’ve just sped it up by 10 years.
Chris: People have realized that we need to go onto digital platforms because people aren’t necessarily going to be going out as much in doing it. They’re going to spend a little bit more time at home with their families and that’s all coming around. I think really, we knew this was coming, but it’s come a lot quicker than I think we [crosstalk] [inaudible] expected.
John: The same thing Zoom boom and when it happened, it just happened faster.
Chris: Just happened faster and look at us now we’re all Zoom pros, right?
John: Right. We’re all– This has become the new normal, which is fine too.
Chris: Completely. Yeah, absolutely. I am looking forward to going out and see [inaudible] clients face-to-face [crosstalk] getting back to a little bit of normality.
Chris: But for now Zoom’s fine and [crosstalk] we get to speak to more people more regularly I think.
John: Right. That’s true.
Chris: Which is one good thing.
John: You mentioned them[?] for facts and the figures a little while ago on hobbies and collectibles. Obviously, you have a great back-end analytical system, and sharing analytics with your publishers must be an important part of your business model. Explain how that works and why that’s an important part of your business model.
Chris: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s one of the main reasons and main things that we give to our publishers. We have a huge amount of data that sits now back-end and we’ve got a brilliant analytics tool for our publishers to use. We’re sitting on over 35 billion data points [inaudible] and all of that is available to our publishers. We share the information because we want our publishers to use it to create better products to go after the audience that they need and that they want. We allow publishers to see who’s reading. We give them demographics. None of this Big Brother[?] stuff. We’re not going to tell you exactly who they are. We can tell you kind of the type of reader that is reading. We can tell people where people are reading. We can tell them what countries they’re from, their whereabouts, and what state they’re in for example, so that people can start tailoring the content a little bit and then most importantly, how people are reading. So, this is data that we never used to be able to really get. I remember when I working back in publishers and on the print side of things that you sit in meetings and you’d have arguments with art directors and editors because they all knew best. They all knew what had to be on the front cover and what taglines worked and what ones didn’t. What Readly gives you and the analytics data gives you is to ignore those arguments. To really kind of delve in and to prove the concept so the art editor can sit down and go, “Well, here’s Readly’s data to show that I was right.” The editor can sit down and go, “Well here’s Readly data. with his dreams data. Well, I was right on this cover line.” Over the years that we’ve been running, we’ve seen publishers and we worked with publishers to change their magazines and to change their content to words[?] how their audience read and to how their audience wants to read.
We’ve had food titles for example that have been not using the right type of recipes on front covers. But as soon as they changed it, because we can show you what articles and what recipes people are reading, they put those on the front cover and the reader’s numbers go up because we can tell you what people are interested in. We were working with a car magazine, for example, and they kept putting brilliant car reviews right at the back of the magazine. After a classified section where they were selling cars. Problem is, is you’re always going to lose people as they go through a magazine. People are going to get bored or they find what they want and they leave.
So, by the time they get to the classified section they go, “Magazine probably over now. I’m not really interested in buying a new car necessarily so I’m going to come out of it.” So, what we did is we told them this and we showed them all the data that sits behind it and they move those reviews in front of the classified section, and now it’s one of the best reads areas in their magazine. So, we’ve got all of this data that we can go through and we can show people how to use it and why they should be using it to better the products that they’re already creating. We’ve got newspapers for example, in Sweden, that are using our data to tell them how long people are reading certain sections. So they were creating, for example, of four-page, soccer section.
Whereas actually, they could see that people were only reading the first two pages, and then they were just dropping off. So, why are they creating a four-page football or soccer section when they create two pages of it? And then they save themselves those two pages in print and in distribution as well. It goes full circle. It’s not just about the magazines on the digital platforms. It’s about enhancing the products in their print as well. It’s about making the publishers more aware of the audience.
John: If I got this right, it’s a great information tool. You get to inform your publishers, more and more publishers are happier clients and publishers.
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.
John: They create content that’s even more viable and more interesting for your readers. So, therefore, the reader’s readership goes up, readers are happier. You bring on new subscribers, publishers are happy because it’s a bigger platform for them to get more readers with. So, it’s one big loop you created with the duality of pushing information over to your publishers, but also creating a better and bigger content platform for your readership groups. Oh, wow. I mean, what a [inaudible] [crosstalk].
Chris: That’s exactly the idea. Yeah, we push money obviously back to the publishers as well. We work on a rev-share model with our publishers. So, when somebody reads that content, they get paid for it, which is obviously super important because they need this money to continue to create brilliant content that they are putting out there. So yeah, you’re right, it goes full circle, and that’s what we’re here for. So, happy publishers, happy clients, happy me as well.
John: Do future of magazines and newspapers, what– given that you’re both an expert in newspapers and magazines because you worked in those industries, your father worked in that industry, and then you also now are a digital expert because you have all this history now working with Readly, and now for Readly has as an executive, where’s does this all going to go? How does this all shake out in the months and years ahead, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, if I had a crystal ball, I’d be worth a lot more than I am I think. But and [crosstalk] expert’s a big word.
John: You’re still young. Don’t worry. The crystal ball’s [inaudible] [crosstalk]
Chris: Yeah, expert’s a big word but I’ll take it. It’s fine.
Chris: I’ll take it. Yeah, the future is very different. If you’d ask my dad, what he thought, it would be very different. My granddad was in newspapers as well. So, [crosstalk] he would’ve told you something different.
Chris: For me, the future of magazines and the future of newspapers, there is a shift towards digital.
Chris: We can see it. It’s been coming. It’s already happening. We can see that there is a shift towards direct subscriptions, to digital subscriptions, to all-you-can-read products like Readly. We’ve already seen it in the music industry with Spotify and with Apple Music. We’ve seen it in the film and the TV industry with Netflix and Amazon Prime, and Disney+ and all of those guys, there is a serious shift for the whole media industry towards digital and away from the physical product. Having said that, I’ve been told since the day I got into the publishing industry, print is dead. It’s something that’s always running around in my head people have always said, friends told to me when I first got in, “Why are you working in the publishing industry? Print’s dead. It’s never going to– Print’s not going to die, right? Print’s going nowhere.
Chris: We will always have printed products completely have printed products. We always are going to want beautiful coffee table magazines. People will always read newspapers. I’m not even sure if I should say it but I still read a physical newspaper every day.
John: That’s wonderful.
Chris: I’ve got Readly. I’ve got the same newspapers.
John: Right. You could say that.
Chris: I like the feel and the touch and I’m one of these weird guys that smell new books and [inaudible].
John: That was in your genes. I mean, your grandfather, your father, I mean, this is your DNA, Chris. Come on now.
Chris: That’s it. I’m not allowed to deviate from it. But print’s not going anywhere.
Chris: But it will slow down. It will slow down and it will slowly get to a point where digital overtakes I think. Publishers are all kind of already expecting it. We can see that their content marketing strategies, for example, are widening. People are offering exclusive content on platforms like podcasts. I think social media has a serious part to play in the marketing of these products as well. We can already see publishers using things like YouTube to create videos around the magazine content to drive people to printed products and printed subscriptions. So, absolutely, we’re going in a digital direction and I do think that the all you can read platform and, of course, I would say this, but I think we’re driving towards that as a media industry as a whole. That people want the ability to go into one place and find not just what they were looking for, but also to be given ideas about other things that they might be interested in, or being able to really dig in and find more than just one title, or one article that they want. They want to be able to go in and find a whole [inaudible] stuff.
John: I love it. For our listeners and for our readers to find Readly and to download it, I’m going to download it today and I’m going to start using it on my iPad. I love reading on my iPad. Go to www.readly.com. I highly suggest for my listeners and viewers to download this wonderful app. Invest in yourself, invest in your friends and your family, give the gift of knowledge. It’s such a great tool to be able to share this and I’m just so honored to be able to have you on the show today, Chris, to share your journey to share the Readly story. I can’t wait to have you back so we can continue learning about how you’re growing around the world. I just want to thank you and your colleagues Chris, for not only making the world a better place but a smarter place as well. Thank you for joining us today on the Impact Podcast.
Chris: No, I really appreciate it. Thanks for having us and thanks for listening to me ramble on about the industry.
John: This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.