Future chief executive Stevie Spring has said that advertisers should buy into niche markets for maximum effect in the economic downturn.
Speaking to Press Gazette after the publisher reported a three per cent rise in like-for-like pre-tax profits this year to, Spring said: “When you’re facing a tough environment and you’ve got less money you need to use it more cleverly.
“I think one of the ways clients can use their money more cleverly is to buy into niche audiences who are really engaged, and to buy into opinion formers who can have a broader influence than just hitting one person.”
Spring said that Future had spent a lot of time reorganising its advertising department ‘so if there’s money on the table we’re in a good place to get some of it.”
Future’s web traffic almost doubled since 2007 with nearly 18 million monthly unique users, although online advertising revenue did not grow at the same rate – up 35 per cent year on year from £6.9m to £9.3m, accounting for 18 per cent of Future’s total ad income.
Despite forecasts that online is an area expected to be less hit by the decline in advertising spend, Spring said that she was ‘agnostic’over where Future’s revenue comes from, ‘as long as they come”.
She said: ‘I don’t think you can compare eyeballs online with eyeballs in print. I think you can do completely different things with the different media and I think that we’re very good at both.”
Spring, who joined the company in July 2006 after six consecutive profit warnings, has made a string of changes over the past two years, including the sale of Future’s French and Italian businesses and the closure or sale of more than 50 under-performing magazines. Spring’s turnaround plan has seen the publisher save £9.3m in costs – including £2.7m this year.
Spring said she was doubtful she would have been able to make those changes in today’s climate – and said the changes had prepared the company well for what lies ahead.
She said: ‘I think you make your own luck, but we took our medicine early, we had to we didn’t have a choice.
“But it means that [we’re ready] as we’re coming into the recession, coupled with the banking crisis and the effect of the web – the perfect storm of stuff against us.
‘I wouldn’t like to be facing the prospect of implementing the strategy we took two years ago today. Trying to do it in these market places would be a real struggle. I don’t think we’d have found a buyer and got rid of our property.”
‘I don’t think we can be immune from a tsunami of economic market place factors, but I think we’re better placed than almost anybody else, certainly any other media company, to take advantage of any opportunities that come up.
“And also we’ve got more protection of any downside, we were talking this morning about being flexible, that’s what we’re going to be over the next 12 months.”