Meredith’s New COO Wants Local And National Media To Share Resources And Data

Tom-Harty-MeredithLocal TV and print magazines don’t share much in common. But as local TV’s digital business grows, and as Meredith’s digital properties need more video expertise, the two disciplines are converging.

Tom Harty, who became Meredith’s COO and president on Thursday, is identifying where the local and national media group can collaborate by “figuring out all the back end and platforms and data.”

Meredith’s 17 local TV stations, which reach 11% of households, have been “a bit slower to shift money to the digital landscape,” Harty said. He wants these stations to lean on the national business’s digital infrastructure.

Plus, having a presence in local TV means Meredith “has set great stage for video” in digital, Harty said. “You hear of competitors starting studios. Well, this is our DNA.”

Meredith’s data investments, including a multiyear project to merge its offline database of consumer information with its online database, has raised the value of its infrastructure.

“Data is a big part of our competitive advantage,” Harty said. “We have a database of 82 million households, and we have been keeping track of the interests of women. We create content around that and sell things to them.”

Yet, digital still isn’t Meredith’s primary revenue driver. Despite scaling up in recent years, it only comprises 25% of advertising revenue for the national media group.

The big revenue crossover point – where digital growth surpasses print declines – hasn’t hit yet. Amid print business declines overall, Meredith still posted a 4% gain in print last quarter, a sign of volatility.

While other traditional media companies like Time Inc. have been noisier about their digital transitions, acquiring companies like Viant and undergoing dramatic reorganizations, Harty said Meredith doesn’t need that level of change to steer in the right direction.

“We’ve got the best team in the media business,” he said. “We don’t have to go through major reorganizations like Time Inc. is going through. We already have the people in place to move the business forward.”

 

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