Gabrielle Sarmiento is constantly looking for new opportunities for publishers.
Joe Berger, Samir Husni, Bo Sacks, Sherin Pierce, and I—the ongoing Publishing Pandemic Roundtable, which has been meeting regularly for almost two years—had the privilege of hosting her at a recent Roundtable.
Gabi, as she is called, is the VP of Sales and Marketing for News Inflight and Media Carrier. Media Carrier GmbH, a Germany-based company, provides customized portfolios of digital publications to the tourism and hospitality industry. Through News Inflight, the company also distributes print magazines to airport lounges.
Joe: Tell us about your company.
Gabi: Media Carrier was founded in 2011 and is one of the leading B2B supplier’s of digital publications and through our comprehensive network are represented in all major markets worldwide. We are working with 25 airlines, such as American Airline, the Lufthansa Group, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic to name a few, 5200 high end hotels; plus private airports, cruise ships, trains, and limousine services. Through us, these companies are able to offer to their customers and guests customized selections from 2000 titles, from 59 countries around the world, in 39 languages. And we’re constantly looking to open up new opportunities for publishers; for example, we’re beginning to work with clinics and hospitals.
Bo: How does Media Carrier connect to the reading product?
Gabi: Our digital product can be used with any web-enabled device without installing an app, registering, or providing personal data to access the publications and it can easily be integrated into the booking confirmation, app, newsletters, on-board IFE or airport lounges. For example, you are in one of the AA Admiral lounges you can activate your Media Box code, given to you at checking to download any publication you desire onto your own devices for immediate reading or for later use. Each of our clients have their own way to give access to the publications, we design everything around them since it becomes their product to give to their passengers or guests.
Samir: You work with both print and digital publications. What challenges do you find that are similar? What differences do you see?
Gabi: In the travel segment, the challenge of one is the opportunity of the other. With the exception of Delta--who want their customers to have everything they want--none of the other carriers are focusing on print anymore. For most of the carriers, the focus has moved wholly to digital. But Delta conducted a survey and found out that more than most enjoy print, so they continue to offer print copies in their Sky Clubs. The program is very successful; there are no leftover copies of any titles that participate.
Linda: And since both print and digital copies are auditable, I work with publishers to whom the impact on their circulation is welcome.
Gabi: Yes, and it’s not only the copies for circulation, it’s the locations. You’re being downloaded in all core markets worldwide, Europe, the USA, Russia, the Gulf States and Asia which gives great impact to the circulation. One of our premier client’s is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with all of their 25 properties around the globe, which is very appealing to advertisers.
Linda: It also can be a source of subscription circulation for the publisher.
Samir: Because many of the magazines coming on market are circ-driven, they’ll need a way to monetize this service.
Gabi: We encourage publishers to include life subscription links to drive new digital and print subscribers by placing targeted offers with an automatic click through to their fulfillment houses to create an additional revenue stream. For a creative publisher, there are many opportunities. You can tell the reader what is in the magazine before downloading with a video clip or convey an advertiser’s message, an event, a personal note or a survey--there are all sorts of things you can do to get the attention of the reader and convert that into revenue.
Joe: What is the cost to the publisher?
Gabi: We have different plans, but the initial set up comprises a free trial period. The banners, the video clips, and other add-ons are fee-based.
Joe: There is no charge to the consumer? It’s a free download for that issue?
Gabi: That’s correct, a free download limited to the specific time and place. And for some airlines, in first and business class, there may be a different mix—a pay factor after several downloads. Our platform is easy to use, you gain access to the Media Box through a code, link etc. and open the library, click on magazines or newspapers, click on the category and look for the publication you want; or you can browse the carousel to discover new titles you haven’t seen before.
Samir: What titles are in high demand?
Gabi: Downloads tend to track what is selling on the newsstand; and of course, for this demographic, the high end and business categories are very strong.
Bo: You mentioned that you use the airlines entertainment system to offer the publications. How does it work when go into the hospitals?
Gabi: At the hospital you would access the platform through their internet via your digital devices- phone, iPad, etc. You sign into the hospital wifi and it will appear on that link.
Bo: The hospitals program could work well for everyone. It’s a captive audience.
Gabi: That’s right. The reader doesn’t have to touch a print magazine that others might have handled; and patients want to do something other than watch tv. We have already introduced this program to fifteen clinics in Germany.
Joe: What do the analytics show: downloads, time with publication, click-throughs?
Gabi: Our reports show title, category, client name, country, location, the timestamp, and download amount.
Joe: To participate, does a publisher provide a pdf?
Bo: So the same pdf I send to printer I send to you?
Gabi: Yes, that’s the fantastic part—you don’t need to re-learn anything. We give you a secure ftp site with your login info and you provide us with the pdf and your production schedule. This enables us to follow up, if a publisher forgets to upload an issue, we’ll let them know.
Linda: Yes, I’ve seen that happen.
Samir: Have you seen the program where a company provided ipads to hotel rooms for their downloads?
Gabi: I have, and it doesn’t work well. It’s too much for the hotels to take care of especially now. With our program, travelers use their own devices. The program is tied to the hotel Wifi; the reader can download the publications and read them on their own leisure.
Samir: Magazines are the only positive medium we have. We’re bombarded with bad news from every other platform out there. But when you pick up a magazine, you can lose yourself.
Gabi: I don’t think print will ever go away; we all love the feeling of holding a magazine and turning the pages. I am blessed with a granddaughter now and I am buying her kids magazine subscriptions right and left. But we also have to remember that the world is constantly changing and digital provides a quick and easy way of getting our favorite reads and it is eco-friendly!
Joe: How were you affected by the pandemic?
Gabi: Everything came to a standstill in March of 2020; to stay sustainable we had to create new ways of content sharing. Some of our clients sent offers to their premiere customers, the first and business class reward members, to download publications at home; this created a great brand loyalty towards our airline clients.
Bo: That was a smart move. It offers a service to the readers, it keeps the platform fresh in their minds, and it provides a PR benefit to airlines.
Joe: Let’s look forward. What does 2022 and 2023 look like for your company?
Gabi: We want to continue to tap into new industries that could benefit from our platform. We know there are health benefits from reading, and that will be a basis for growing into new sectors.