Bauer takes another step in the digital direction with Cleo website

After ACP was purchased by Bauer last year, many have been waiting to see what ze Germans would do—and what its digital strategy would be. And, following on from the launch of Metro Eats and Metro Arts, the next cab off the digital rank is cleo.co.nz.

Previously, some Cleo content was available online through the MSN platform due to ACP’s relationship with Channel 9 in Australia. Publisher Fiona Lyon says the management of the site was taken care of by MSN, and, from a consumer point of view, it didn’t get updated as regularly as it should have. Of course, being available on a portal like MSN drove traffic, something media agencies in particular are always keen on seeing. But while Lyon says she understands the numbers are important, it is aiming for quality over quantity with Cleo. 

Cleo’s audience is young, digitally and socially active and increasingly print averse. So it made sense to give it some love. Group digital manager Emma Epp, who started with Bauer around two years ago on a project to improve the e-commerce functionality for subscriptions and took this new role a few months ago, says she’s very aware that consumers now expect fresh content daily, if not hourly (under MSN it closer to weekly). So as well as Epp, there are two digital producers and an online marketer in the digital team. 

Bauer NZ chief executive Paul Dykzeul has been pretty clear about where he thinks the newspaper industry has gone wrong: it gives its content away for free and therefore devalues it (and Bauer’s chief executive Paul Keenan agrees). One of the reasons it’s waited for so long is because there had to be a viable business model behind digital, something that many publishers in New Zealand and around the world are struggling to find (in New Zealand, Bauer’s experiments with iPad apps have seen little success). That philosophy remains in place, and while offering free content and going down the ad-funded road is a slight departure for Bauer, Epp says it is about tailoring it to the medium and the audience, with all the online content produced in New Zealand-specific  and a small amount of adapted magazine content posted. 

The website will soon be mobile optimised, but it isn’t responsive. It is based on a site created by the Bauer team in Australia and then customised to suit this market based on, as Epp says “what we know about search in New Zealand and what content works for the advertisers and readers”. 

Epp says it is basically starting from scratch as far as an audience, so the numbers are low at this stage, but so far, she says the response from the readers has been really positive and daily UBs and page views are growing steadily. 

“We’re currently sitting at over 350 daily uniques and approximately 3,000 pages per day and the growth pattern is really positive. Our Facebook community is also responding very well to the launch of the site and we’re quickly approaching 19,000 fans. We do want to be transparent with our numbers, and have implemented Nielsen tracking so the numbers are accessible externally.”

Circulation-wise, Lyon says it’s very much peaks and troughs for the magazine (average net paid circulation is 7,676, down from 15,594 in 2007 and 24,612 in 2002). She says it’s a fairly fickle audience, but when the magazine is promoted, features a gift with purchase or showcases some babes as it does with the upcoming Bachelor of the Year competition, it gets good results. 

Lyon says the new website has been received exceedingly well by clients. She says it has always offered integrated campaigns through digital, social, print and events, but the website is a step-up and it has attracted some new online-only advertisers who weren’t in the magazine, specifically fashion e-tailers banks and recruiters. ​As a result, she says it’s hitting its ad budgets.  

Bauer isn’t stopping with Cleo, however. It is getting set to launch its new website based around fashion and beauty, which will be made up of content from Woman’s Day, Fashion Quarterly, Australian Women’s Weekly, Next and others. It used to run the 30 Days of Fashion and Beauty event, but this digital property will now take over that role, giving it the ability to sell advertising across its own female-skewed network. 

Good Health will also have a digital presence soon and Taste.co.nz is set to launch before the end of the year. 

Lyon says there were plenty of clients and agencies who were waiting for Bauer to get with the programme and offer some digital options. Under the previous owners, she says there was no drive for innovation or any investment back into the business. But Bauer has a real desire to grow its brands. There’s no one size fits all approach to digital, but one of the main rules—and the main goals of this new approach—is to make its properties into real brands, not just websites or magazines. 

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