Jane Waterhouse

Jane Waterhouse: ‘When we know our audience, we win’

The launch of Bauer’s Story54 has created a one-stop-shop for brands looking to connect with female audiences. Magazine Networks spoke to Jane Waterhouse who heads up the division.

Before the official launch of Bauer Media’s content marketing arm last month, the publisher was testing the waters with a number of campaigns that would soon fall under the Story54 banner. Headed up by Jane Waterhouse, Story54 brings together Bauer’s various arms to create unique campaigns for clients, best demonstrated by the publisher’s work during the Spring Racing Carnival for Google’s Pixel 2 phone.

Multi-pronged with experiential elements and influencers engaged, the campaign targeted Millennial women at Oaks Day, Derby Day and the Melbourne Cup with interviews and photographic content all captured on the Pixel 2.

The campaign followed another branded entertainment play in the form of the Festival of Fiat which saw Bauer combine Fiat’s 500X model with Australian Fashion Week influencers. It was a good sign for Story54 that the campaign picked up the Content Marketing Campaign of the Year at the Australian Magazine Awards.

Of the new division, Waterhouse says, “It’s a stronger offering for advertisers where we call on what we refer to as ‘brand entertainment’.”

Waterhouse, whose remit has expanded from focusing on digital content for brands to running the division, has a long history of working with female audiences as founder and CEO of her own marketing agency which consulted for brands including some of Australia’s best-known magazines. She joined Bauer in 2016 and today combines her two areas of expertise, having worked agency side as well as editing and publishing magazines.

“What’s really exciting is that marketers can come to us and not only can we give them a full end-to-end solution, we can bring the audience at the same time. We have the brand safe environments of well-known, recognised, premium titles that are female-focused,” she says.

Across Bauer’s print and digital assets, Waterhouse says there is only a small amount of duplication within the audience. It ranges from less than 5% for a title such as Cosmopolitan to 10% for The Australian Women’s Weekly. “These readers share the same values, they’re just experiencing the brands in a different way,” she says.

This combination of print and online is proving to be a “compelling” proposition for advertisers given the increased level of reach. Waterhouse calls this ‘niche at scale’; encompassing deep engagement and effectiveness while encouraging audiences to consume brands on different channels.

Commercially-led content

Story54 has already established relationships with agencies as it looks to cater to a range of client needs. “Some agencies come to us wanting a straight media buy. Some come to us wanting strategic insights, research and a creative output. It varies based on the agency or the client,” says Waterhouse.

Branded and native content is big business for Bauer with revenue from the approach increasing from 30% to 60% within a year with 20 to 30 pieces of native content released each week. “It’s really turned into an exciting part of our business,” says Waterhouse.

Commercially-led content is rapidly growing, and Waterhouse says the ability of her team to response quickly sets them apart.

The content ranges from long-form investigative journalism to infographics, picture graphs, Instagram and Facebook stories, as well as shoppable images and podcasts.

Bauer’s wealth of resources attracted Waterhouse to the role and her team has at its disposal fashion and food studios as well as the famous Australian Women’s Weekly recipe test kitchen. “From a production point of view, it excites me that we have that capability to do pretty well anything a client may ask,” says Waterhouse.

Yet Waterhouse says it is important for the publisher to play to its strengths which for Bauer means focusing on women. “People always ask us, ‘What can you do? Can you do this?’ Yes, we can do anything but what must we do to be able to land the greatest engagement, the greatest reach? We have to keep narrowing down and not trying to be all things to all people but aim to have the deepest impact on women” she says.

Beyond the big idea

The concept of a “big idea” haunts Waterhouse as she says it implies never ending thinking and an infinite budget. “Ideation is important in this business and it takes time. It’s not like a sushi train where you just take ideas off a line. To develop a really good idea from a strong insight, and for it to be solid, does take time and often brands don’t have that luxury,” she says.

Having a diverse team helps and Waterhouse sees Bauer’s breadth of experience as a key asset. “You need people with a really open mind that are good listeners and to develop an environment that encourages new thinking,” she says.

As for the future of the magazine business, Waterhouse says, “There’s never been a more exciting time to be in magazine brand publishing. The change and reimagining that is going on in print and its relationship with the digital channel is fascinating, but it always comes back to audience. When we know our audience, we win.”