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13.11.2017

Creating a super portal: ALT.dk Digital Editor, Sara Wilkins on why amalgamating magazine brands online can reap rich rewards

One of the biggest decisions many magazine publishers have to make is how to transition their print content to digital. For some it is all about maintaining the magazine's brand online. yet others have enjoyed great success in amalgamating print publications to create super portals.

A good example of this ALT.dk a female focused website from Denmark owned by Egmont Publishing. As Digital Editor Sara Wilkins explains curating articles from eight printed magazines has helped to create the nation’s most popular women’s website in the country.

Sara will be giving more details on this process as well as offering a wider view of magazine publishing in the Nordic region at DIS 2017. Get your tickets here.

What is your personal background - how did you get into publishing?

I’ve been working in journalism since I was 14 years old when I was offered an internship at my favourite Danish youth magazine at the time, Vi Unge. Since then, I’ve studied journalism at University of Southern Denmark, which included an internship at Danish newspaper Politiken, before moving to New York City to study Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at The New School for Social Research in order to better understand and reflect on challenges and opportunities in journalism and the publishing industry in general. I started working as a digital journalist at ALT.dk in September 2016 and became digital lifestyle editor in November 2017.

Explain how the Egmont group works - and where does ALT.dk fit within it?

Egmont Publishing is a leading magazine publisher in the Nordic region, publishing more than 700 monthly and weekly magazines around the world. In Denmark, we produce a wide range of difference magazines for men, women and children. ALT.dk is currently the largest women’s website in Denmark, consisting of articles from eight women’s magazines, including: ALT for damerne, Eurowoman, Hendes Verden, Hjemmet, Fit Living, Boligliv, RUM and Vores Børn. Apart from this, we are a smaller team of journalists who create original content for ALT.dk.

What were the key factors in developing ALT.dk’s digital strategy?

The goal was for ALT.dk to become the largest website for Danish women with five strong sections on lifestyle, food, fashion, health and children. So far, we have succeeded beyond our hopes and have just completed our most successful month in the history of ALT.dk with almost one million users in October 2017 – bringing us to number 10 in Danish Online Index (an index listing the biggest websites in Denmark).

To achieve this you brought together eight print titles under one digital umbrella. How did you do this? What were the key challenges you faced?

Many of our print titles had their own websites before ALT.dk so it was a big operation, ensuring that all the articles were transferred correctly onto the ALT.dk page without losing their SEO status in Google. One of the challenges has been some digital down-time due to server issues, but largely, we’ve been very successful in migrating eight print titles onto one digital platform and we see continued growth in reader and user numbers.

All of our print magazines have strong brands in their own right so it also took some explaining internally to convince everyone that one digital platform with five strong sections was the right strategy and way to go. 

How then are you monetising the digital strategy? 

We are constantly focusing on optimising our site so advertisers who value good content will have a strong platform to advertise from. We also plan to strengthen our relation to those of our e-commerce businesses that are interested in the same target groups that our content relates directly to. And we are of course working closely with the Egmont-owned companies Jollyroom, Bageren og Kokken, MED24 and Nicehair. Acquiring e-commerce companies within the special interest areas of Egmont Publishing is an important part of the Egmont strategy.

Apart from this, we are looking at new business models and market deals – also outside of Denmark. One recent example is the cooperation between the Egmont-owned TV2 in Norway and the international media group Schibsted. Models like this could work well in Denmark too.

How do you use social media? 

We mainly post articles on Facebook and currently rely heavily on social media. 40% of our traffic comes from Facebook while 45% comes from Google and 5% comes from direct visits to ALT.dk and newsletters etc. We are working actively with SEO to ensure that our content has the longest digital life possible and believe that, as we continue to grow, more people will visit ALT.dk directly instead of finding us through social media.

Could you give examples of publishing companies in other territories who are doing things digitally that have inspired you?

Videos generally perform well on Facebook so we are looking into video content at ALT.dk and admire the people at Upworthy (American media company), among others, for their ability to tell stories effectively with videos that catch the attention of millions of people every week.

Generally, what do you see are the strengths and weaknesses of the Danish publishing industry? Is there anything peculiar to the country? Or are the issues you face the same as those across Europe?

I think we face the same challenges here as many places around the world: How do we continue to deliver content of high quality in a world where almost anyone can become a “publisher” on social media and where readers have gotten used to content being free? We believe quality journalism and strong credibility is the right strategy and will continue to live up to our core value – bringing stories to life – whatever platform readers decide to turn to in the future. We are also working actively to find new ways to monetise on our digital content by looking at things like video, content marketing, professional partnerships and strengthening of our e-commerce businesses.

***Registration for DIS 2018 (19-20 March in Berlin) is now available. Save hundreds of euros on the registration price when you sign up before 1 December 2017. Secure your place here***

***Have a story to tell? Contact Cobus Heyl at cobus[at]fipp.com with speaker proposals for 2018. Include a brief description of the topic, why it is innovative and relative to our audience of top media people, and the name and brief biography of the proposed speaker. Media such as videos of previous presentations are also welcome***

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