Ilse Media is in the news a lot since Joris van Heukelom succeeded Paul Molenaar as CEO this year. New initiatives, acquisitions, but also personnel changes. Van Heukelom is working with Ilse on a new strategy. "Video was completely underexposed."
Joris van Heukelom succeeded Paul Molenaar at the end of January as Ilse Media's CEO. Emerce talks to Van Heukelom on the day that it is known that parent company Sanoma Uitgevers Michiel Buitelaar will become new media.
Source photo: Hans van den Heuvel
Buitelaar is also a successor to Molenaar, who held two positions at the same time and now takes a year of rest. For Van Heukelom, Buitenlaar is an old acquaintance, that is how they worked together at KPN. "Of course this has been going on for a while", says Van Heukelom, "I am very happy with his arrival, we can work because there is a lot to do".
He clearly likes Ilse Media. His room is next to the work floor where mostly young people are busy with the well-known products. It is the same room as Molenaar, but something has changed. For example, the desk has been redeemed for a large bank. "For 25 euros from Marktplaats", Van Heukelom grins. His workplace consists of a square wooden conference table with a laptop. "Well, it is only for a few weeks, then we will leave for the new building near Amsterdam Lelylaan station."
The move of the Sanoma daughter is striking in more than one area. First, Ilse Media stays in Amsterdam and therefore does not move to the large building of the magazine producer in Hoofddorp. Secondly, not all departments go to the new loco. The youth department 'New Rulez' has already moved to the city center of Amsterdam
In Van Heukelom's environment he was amazed at his new job. "I received comments from my immediate circle. I was asked what I should do here, the internet world does not have a good idea of the strength of this company. This is partly because the people at Ilse Media are very product-oriented, which also reflects the quality of our battleships. On the other hand, it has to do with the name that is strongly connected to the search engine it once was. The brand Ilse Media has to be loaded further, it should have the same load as, for example, RTL Nederland, which includes all kinds of transmitters. With this difference, Ilse Media is a 'digital only' media company with several large titles. "
Source photo: Hans van den Heuvel
In the genes
The new CEO is enthusiastic about the 'enormous wealth' of the activities in his company, as well as the 'beautiful portfolio that you can use in all directions'. "The Start Day of Home is a great example of this. I had never been there and I had to go to Lelystad on Saturday to show my nose there. An obligation like my job and I hear myself telling my girlfriend that I would be back home soon. That turned out to be a mistake, the daughter's day is incredibly inspiring by all those people who feel connected to the product. Of everyone who currently picks up their nose for Home, eighty percent of opinion would change after experiencing a daughters day. "
Although the search engine that gave the company its name no longer plays a major role with the publisher, does not mean that there is no thought about 'search' within Ilse Media. "The dominance of Google as a search engine is undeniable, but there are certainly opportunities. We now think very hard about the representation of the search results. In five years, Google's current working method can no longer be accepted. For example, enter the name of a journalist and there will be a long line of links to articles, otherwise you have to figure it out. This can be done much better by highlighting certain articles and presenting them on a page with a combination of the different media types. That is much more efficient than a list of 25, 000 links. Because the search engine is no longer critical for the company, we take the time and we will put our egg in the autumn. Search is still in our genes, of course, that's what it started with. "
Rich media and video
But there are also developments on the internet where Ilse Media plays a less dominant role. This applies, for example, to online video, but that must change according to Van Heukelom. "Video was completely underexposed with us. We have sat down with the right people and looked at what it is, what we want to do with it and, first of all, if we want to do something with it at all? "
"There are two important indications that Ilse Media has to do something with video. First, different studies indicate that video becomes a very important part of the 'display'. Online viewing time increases month after month. Secondly, according to estimates, about one billion euros are spent annually on television advertising. Some of that huge amount of money goes online sooner or later, and that is what you want to be an internet publisher. It is time that advertisers not only stripped the internet from an accountability drive, but also realized that you could do brand building online. That brand objectives can also be achieved via the internet. Rich media and video are a clear step forward here. "
Video on the net is therefore important, but how do you respond to that? Van Heukelom clearly sees opportunities. "Here and there, there is a lot of fun with video. Sowing has thus happened in the meantime. But there is no real connection. "That has to be different, but according to which strategy? "A publisher has three possibilities with a moving image. First of all, he can make or buy video himself, he can simply get a thousand kilos of video from a producer if he wants. Secondly, the aggregation of video on the internet has taken a huge flight, say what YouTube and the like do well. Third possibility is to do something in the signpost atmosphere, the 'guidance' model. Who will show the online viewer the way in all that offer? With these three possibilities side by side it is obvious that we have to do something between aggregating and the guide. "
With this, Ilse Media seems to stay with its core business, namely to guide the visitor to the routes to information on the web. "That looks like it, but there is an important new aspect, it does not stop at just a link. There is no limit to which you refer. "In that light, the latest acquisition of Ilse Media must be considered as well, the TV and web video guide Zie.nl that appears online and in the free newspaper Dag. "When I finished our vision of online video, Dag called me. Whether I was interested in Zie.nl. I have been closely involved with KPN in developing it, I know the concept through and through and it fits perfectly in our new strategy. It was a small acquisition, but a nice project. "
All fun in the browser, of course, but is not it obvious that Ilse Media will play a role outside of that, for example as an interactive EPG for digital television? "That is of course the essence why KPN developed it. Yet that is not our ambition in the near future. We must first concentrate on video on the internet itself. The rest will follow. "
After this Van Heukelom rolls up his sleeves and opens his laptop. "We have a very nice pilot with Home page." On the screen appears the Chicken Page, one of the more than 5500 daughter pages that are maintained under the flag of Home. "For chicken lovers, this is the center of the internet", he says proudly. "We have provided a limited number of administrators with a tool that allows them to easily view and publish video from a variety of sources. It is going well and we intend to offer this to all managers in September ".
Nice, but how does Ilse Media make money with this? Van Heukelom does not attach much importance to this at the moment. "Almost all successful internet companies have not started making money. Google just wanted to build a good search engine. Although they are now doing brilliantly with the Adwords, money was only made later. This applies to many more companies. In addition, this project does not cost much. The question 'How do I earn money with it?' always be directly proportional to the costs. Internet innovation is accompanied by the planting of field seeds and the practice of a lot of patience in combination with cost control. "
But back to the challenge video, the loot of one billion euros spent on television beckons. "It is a well-kept secret that television is a very cheap channel. As an advertiser on TV you buy one grp for 500 euros. If you want to achieve that through a simple banner, you are always more expensive. The chain in TV advertising also makes it easy for advertisers and the end product is very visible. Online is much more complicated and you have to think about it much better. Online video can also offer all this and that will get the advertisers over the line. Also important is the changing behavior of the consumer. Last year, the number of hours that television was watched dropped for the first time in years. That will rise again this year because of the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games, after which the television industry will dance a polonaise and shout that it is going so well. But it says a lot to me. It is no coincidence that the Public Broadcaster adds the streams of Uitzending Gemist to the viewing figures. The time that a marketer can reach 80 percent of the population with one campaign ends. It is clear that this classic channel and the corresponding budgets are crumbling. A few of those fragments fall in the garden of online. "
Earning money with content on the internet remains an important part of the publishing profession. That is already possible in many ways and Van Heukelom does not yet think that the development is coming to an end. "I was recently on Advertising 2.0 in New York. Although not the most interesting congress of the last years, I stumbled upon small parties that had thought hard. For example, some of them focused completely on the Amazon trick: readers of this book also found these books interesting. That is also possible with other media as video or a combination: people who read that article liked this video and people who liked that video made use of this offer. Delicious. We are not doing enough with these things in the Netherlands, and Ilse Media can also expand here. We have a total of more than eight million visitors per month. To someone who looks at a refrigerator at Kieskeurig, you can then offer a banner on that device on Nu.nl. This is one of our spearheads this year, because everyone is talking about behavioral targeting, but nobody is doing exceptionally well. The cases still have to be built. "
Ilse Media is not known as the great innovator and it seems that the publisher has missed the development of web 2.0. Van Heukelom completely disagrees with this. "Our brands have grown organically to web 2.0 in recent years. Flat publishing of content, typically 1.0, does not happen that much anymore. We may have a different basis than sites like Hyves, but that does not mean that it does not happen to us. Nu.nl is already very successful with the readers with Nujij and Nufoto. The visitor of the site must feel at home in the warm nest of Nu.nl. But that also happens with other titles such as Home and Kieskeurig. The story of the daughters, that is clear, or the reviews on Kieskeurig, very 2.0! "
Innovation in the attic
The innovation within the existing titles is another spearhead of Ilse Media's strategy, which in recent years was mainly focused on buying sites. Van Heukelom explains: "The top 20 of the STIR did not change much in the past year, the consumer seems to be rather conservative in his surfing behavior. That means a change of strategy for us. The company has grown in a developing market that has been very well purchased. This has provided a strong, solid basis. We will have to deal with things differently in the future. Of course, we have to look around us closely at emerging players, but our profit lies for a large part in the further renewal of existing products such as Startpagina, Nu.nl, Kieskeurig and Schoolbank. That's pretty easy, because you know the brands well. "
With the launch of new brands, Ilse Media has not been very successful in recent years. "Innovation on the internet can be done in different ways. Within a large organization - which we are gradually using with two hundred employees - you can bombard each other from all kinds of workgroups with Powerpoint and Excel files. Many people can occupy themselves with this, but hardly anything comes out. The real innovation on the internet is working, as we speak, by two people in an attic or a garage. You have to put this innovation at a safe distance from the company. I do not rule out the fact that we plant two people in an attic and visit them every other month to see how they are doing. A hundred new initiatives per month may be launched per month in the Netherlands, of which perhaps one or two will be successful. It is arrogant to say that we will develop exactly those two within our own doors. Making something successful is not that easy. That is possible in a closed environment such as television, there they have to do their very best to drive away viewers. In an open environment such as the internet, you do not simply launch to automatically achieve success: it is always pull, never push . "
Van Heukelom sees not only video but also mobile as a spearhead. "Mobile is a good example of how certain trends in our industry are being addressed. I have a theory about this. Such a thing always starts at conferences. A certain topic is labeled as 'new', after which all sorts of seminars and lectures are organized that give you the feeling that this is the turning point of history. After a year, the draft is a bit of a draft and smart people with critical questions are taking development under fire. Then it appears that it takes a while before the world looks completely different again. After that you do not hear anything anymore for two years and then suddenly it is there. It is a cycle of about four years and that happened with digital television and mobile. We are now at the point that both digital television and mobile internet can make a difference. "The comparison with the beginning of the internet is imminent. "Ten years ago we were busy with a modem, going on the internet was always exciting or it works. Now you buy a laptop, drive up the canal, you always find somewhere an open wifi and you're on the internet ".
"You should not see the cell phone as a replacement for the PC. You have to look at what need the channel satisfies. A mobile phone is much more personal than a PC, you always have it with you and there are specific features such as location based services. You can of course do something with Nu.nl for example. An even better, faster and regionally more current range of news for example. However, it is still too early to say how to make money. To this end, the use of mobile internet is still too early. Make no mistake that many people, for example, are not getting the settings of their phone right. It is still a niche. There are no good business models yet, but that will come. We make sure that we are briefly on the ball and we are ready for the mobile internet. "