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Aspermont outlines transformation from print magazine publisher to premium digital subscriptions, and next steps

ASX-listed B2B publisher Aspermont is continuing its transformation from a traditional print publisher to a provider of premium digital subscriptions and end-to-end marketing services, detailing the process and its next steps in its FY19 results presentation.

Headquartered in the UK, Aspermont publishes for the mining, agriculture, energy and technology sectors, and has offices in Australia, UK, Brazil, North America and the Philippines.

Over half (55 per cent) of the company’s revenue is gained from the Australasia region, which has traditionally made up the largest portion of its readership. However, in the last few years the company has been focusing on North America as a key market, and has grown its audience in the region by 500 per cent to account for 45 per cent of its total audience. Aspermont’s Asia Pacific audience now accounts for 28 percent of its total. 

The publisher recorded $16.4 million in revenue against an operating expenditure of $15.9 million and zero balance sheet debt for FY19, outlining that its margins “reflect a year of significant investment to enhance the scalability of our model”. 

Of its reported revenue, 39 per cent is attributed to subscription revenue, while 30 per cent is attributed to display advertising, 18 per cent to content marketing and 12 per cent to events. 

Establishing growth on premium digital subscriber engagement 

A key part of Aspermont’s success is its focus on growing and maintaining engagement with its premium subscription base. 

The company reported that its audience metrics have continued to improve year-on-year since June 2016: 

  • Its number of subscriptions has increased from 7,158 to 8,171
  • The average revenue per subscription has increased from $623 to $938
  • The annual contract value of subscriptions has increased from $4.5 million to $7.5 million 
  • Web users have increased from 1.1 million to 2.6 million 
  • Subscription renewal rate has increased from 73 per cent to 84 per cent 
  • The average lifetime of a subscription has increased from 3.7 years to 6.1 years. 

In its latest investor presentation, Aspermont Managing Director Alex Kent said “Over that period, we grew our subscriptions base by 14 per cent; lifted our pricing by 51 per cent and reduced our churn by 41 per cent.” 

Aspermont’s transformation from print magazine publisher

So how has Aspermont made the transformation from largely B2B print magazine publishing to a premium subscription provider? The process has been underway since FY16 and has involved “three distinct development phases,” according to Kent, with the company now entering its fourth and “most significant, growth phase”.  

The first phase involved fixing legacy business issues by clearing the company’s balance sheet debt and settling legal cases. The team focused on restoring advertising revenues to growth so that the company returned to profitability. 

In the second phase, Aspermont invested in content and technology platforms to grow a premium subscription audience, which has seen the company deliver “13 quarters of back-to-back high-performance growth in subscriptions revenues and all associated key SaaS metrics”. 

In 2017, the company completed phase three by establishing its wholly-owned events and research divisions. It now holds two events in Australia which are closely tied to its Australian Mining Monthly, Minging Journal, Mining Magazine, and MiningNews.net publications.

Aspermont is now in phase four: building a full end-to-end marketing services suite for its clients.

The diversification in revenue can be seen by comparing the company’s FY16 and FY19 revenue sources: 

Revenue sourceFY16FY19
Display advertising46%30%
Subscriptions34%39%
Content marketing 18%13%
Jobs/classifieds1% 1% 
Events 1%12%
DelegatesN/A3%
Content creationN/A1%
Lead generationN/A1%

The path to solutions selling

Kent explained “We have spent a lot of time…talking to our clients to understand their marketing aspirations, to see how we can alleviate their pains and optimise their gains.” 

“Many of our clients work with us to focus on developing their brands and to increase awareness of their product and services, which we deliver through traditional display advertising solutions.” 

But Kent said that increasingly clients were asking Aspermont about new ways to reach their audiences, via blogs, articles, profiles, case studies, guides, webinars, whitepapers, video, podcasts, animation, and face-to-face. 

“So, over the last few years, we have built delivery capabilities for all these different formats.

“We launched a content agency this year, enabling clients to access the world-class talent in journalism we have at Aspermont to help build recognition for their best attributes. Our journalists are skilled at writing and placing content in new and engaging ways to give clients wider recognition.” 

Kent said that Aspermont also works with marketers in new ways to help them prove the efficacy of their campaign spend and ROI, largely through lead generation services

“In some circumstances we go a step further and nurture leads for the client’s sales teams, working to remove some of the initial hurdles they encounter on the road to successful conversion.” 

He said “Through deeper understanding and closer relationships within the market we aim to cater for every part of our client’s marketing needs and through the strong performance in our own audience build we help our clients further leverage their success in line with our success.” 

2020 onwards 

According to Kent, “Subscriptions development remains at the core for next year – as always – and so does the continued transition of our commercial teams from transactional to solution selling. This is at the heart of our priorities for next year and likely the following few years as well.”  

Aspermont’s full FY19 investor presentation can be read here

Written by Lyndsie Clark

Targeted Media Services Network Founder and Editor Lyndsie Clark has over 12 years of niche publishing experience, working in a variety of roles spanning B2B editorial, sales, operations, events, BD, and management.

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