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INNOVATION LABS LAWS OF ATTRACTION: HOW EMMA LAB KEEPS TABS ON EUROPEAN POLICY


network of experts from the diff erent areas that are now committed to thinking about the future of media and in the context of the policy work we are doing here. And I think it has also raised a lot of awareness within the media sector about the impact of new policies on the everyday businesses. The policy makers are now much more aware of what the thinking is in our sector – and not just magazines, the whole media sector.


“It is giving the politicians a better idea. I don’t think it is speeding up anything – and that wasn’t the objective – most of the things coming out of Brussels aren’t helpful to our sector. It’s more about slowing things down and refl ecting better and just keeping the corridors of innovation in our sector as wide as possible.


EMMA, the European Magazine Media Association, founded its own Future Media Lab in 2012. Executive director Max von Abendroth came up with the idea as a way of bridging the gap between the fast development of the media sector and the very long-lasting legislative procedures at European Union level. “There was a need to anticipate what the future media landscape would look like and the idea was to do this by including all relevant stakeholders in such a debate. This included politicians, technology companies, media professionals and academics.


“There is a big diff erence between the media companies which are inviting innovation and the Future Media Lab. We are not driving innovation by investing in start-ups. Instead, we are trying to bring together all the people who have a good understanding of what innovation is about and link it to the political debate.


Max von Abendroth, executive director of EMMA, Belgium


“The idea came from the pressure we felt from the daily work we were doing. We found it diffi cult to give answers to certain questions and we felt it would be better to involve the politicians in the debate about the future of our industry rather than just confronting them with fi nal acquisition papers


“I think we have managed to set up a good


Sanoma has launched 15 startups and closed down six. “That’s part of the process,” says Kurkijärvi, adding: “We have nine now at different stages – some already generating some real revenue. We hope to hit €1m with one of the ventures. A few others are showing some nice growth and, of course, some are in the early stages. We are quite realistic about the probability of success, so we aim to launch 50 startups in three years. Out of those 50, we expect five to succeed. It’s a case of having an idea, testing it and if it validates, get it up and running quickly – and quickly shelve it if it doesn’t work.” The Axel Springer core team consists of eight people – a “variable geometry” of freelance, internal and other resources. “We rely strongly on outside expertise for the execution part,” says Machold. So far the company has launched eight new products and spun-out three independent companies, ranging from core media products to a mobile loyalty scheme. Burda’s core team is based at HQ, says


Schiefelbein. “Our first Innovators’ Suite was highly driven from the headquarters and we still support and drive the innovation processes.


www.fipp.com


“The feedback we get is that the media companies and professionals are sharing information too – and that was also the intention; to allow everyone to learn. The last January conference was a good example, because we talked a lot about innovation; but innovation from the perspective of the journalist and the innovation of media professionals. These are two diff erent perspectives and people left the conference with a better understanding of where the other side is coming from.


“We are attracting an increasingly expert level of people. Rather than people just sitting there and listening, they’re there to share … Since EMMA started the lab there has been more emphasis on innovation and not being scared of technological disruption.”


Future Media Lab 2015


EMMA’s next Future Media Lab – ‘Future of Media’ – will take place on 20 January 2015 in Brussels. It will bring together four working teams, exploring:


1. Consumer behaviour: How are media consumption patterns changing? Why?


2. Technology innovation and disruption: What is the possible


impact of new technologies on the future of media?


3. Business models: How do media business models change?


4. Media diversity: How does EU legislation impact Europe’s future of media?


www.magazinemedia.eu


During our projects and partnerships in the last year, a decentralised team of local digital managers evolved and is working with partners. They are already cooperating in several countries and drive these partnerships and innovation processes locally.” Burda is so far pleased with the results it’s been getting: “Reflecting on the first year, we have launched seven concrete new business models in our markets which had their starting point at our first Innovators’ Suite in 2013. We repeated this format this year and realised two more co-operations in just three weeks.” Having the freedom to experiment is


liberating for the risk adverse. But thinking through the potential early pitfalls is also crucial. “We all know that ideas are a dime a dozen. We all have them, but we don’t know if they will work,” says Kurkijärvi: “We apply the lean startup principles; always working out what are the riskiest assumptions behind an idea and looking at what will validate or invalidate those assumptions. Even before building a product we use customer insight to see if there is real need in the market first. Then we figure out how to make a product that could turn


into real business. The aim is to get something as quickly as possible into the hands of the consumers and use that feedback to start understanding what we should be producing.” Burda is encouraged. “Initiated by the first


Innovators’ Suite, we have launched a parenting platform in Russia called www.moyrebenok.ru, which is a close co-operation of www.netmoms. de – the leading parenting platform in Germany,” says Schiefelbein. “Moreover, we created a sales partnership with TRND, the leader in word-of-mouth marketing, in Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic. Also, our successful premium partner network for fashion retailers, where Poland was the pilot country, launched in Turkey recently. This is an exclusive partnership with tracdelight, Germany.” Axel Springer Ideas funnels all its


efforts back into corporate product development. “We shape everything we do into individual products,” says Machold, “We are less concerned with organisational change or internal initiatives.” Sanoma has seen some fast returns too.


“It’s only been half a year for the lab. But, for example, in the Netherlands, we launched an


» issue 84_2014 | Magazine World |23


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