Hearst Magazines UK CEO James Wildman: ‘The media world is turning into a messy place’

Hearst U.K. is home to brands like Harpers Bazaar and Good Housekeeping. The publisher halved its annual losses to £2.7 million ($3.6 million) in its last financial year, but it still relies on print for 70 percent of its revenue.

Since Wildman took up the post last April, he’s set up quarterly meetings with Hearst U.K.’s 1,000 employees and reorganized teams. We spoke to Wildman to discuss its growing product licensing and events businesses and the shifting power of platforms. The conversation has been slightly edited for clarity.

Are you making revenue from the platforms?
Third-party platforms will become increasingly important in our future. We have a symbiotic relationship with platforms, like Snapchat. It’s good for them to have Cosmo on Snapchat Discover, and we get a revenue share. You could argue the balance of power is with them because of their extraordinary scale, but they don’t have the content.

Do advertisers care?
Advertisers have to understand the decision to put money into a platform which doesn’t employ a single content creator, and in so doing put some quality publishing businesses under pressure. We’re seeing the word trust used in briefs more and more, that’s interesting. The media world is turning into a messy place. Trust is as low as it’s ever been. In an increasingly fragmented world, our brands are rubies in the dust.

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