Commentary

'Marie Claire' Owner Future PLC Seeks Growth With Enthusiast Targeting, Ecommerce

Future plc, the U.K. media company that bought the U.S. edition of Marie Claire this year, is projected to boost profits as advertising and commerce revenue grow. The pandemic has renewed interest in indoor hobbies, helping the publisher to monetize titles such as PC Gamer, Guitar Player and Homes & Gardens.

Future’s stock has nearly quadrupled in value in the past two years amid investor enthusiasm for its growth. Its operating income in 2021is forecast to reach £140 million ($194 million), with a net profit margin of 23%, according to estimates cited by The Wall Street Journal. The company reported income of £71.7 million on £272.6 million in sales for the year ended in March.

Future’s strength is found in its 163 media brands, including enthusiast titles that cater to niche audiences that some advertisers seek to reach. That positions the company in a traditional publisher role that economists describe as a “two-way market,” serving both readers and advertisers. However, only 8% of Future’s revenue comes from readers, contrasting with newspapers like The New York Times that depend on digital subscription growth.
Earlier this year, Future shared data that highlighted how its websites command higher CPMs because of direct deals with advertisers seeking contextual placements. Those deals make up 40% of its ad revenue and are more immune to the loss of tracking cookies in web browsers.
Ecommerce makes up 31% of Future’s total income, partly as a result of acquisitions of price-comparison sites like GoCompare. The company can drive traffic to the sites by showcasing them among online content, and harvest their data for lifestyle stories, as the WSJ notes.
Future aims to accelerate its growth among female readers, which helped to inspire its acquisition of Marie Claire U.S. from a Hearst Magazines joint venture. Future already had published the U.K. edition of the fashion magazine.
Amid the continued growth of the ecommerce market, Future has more potential to expand that business segment.

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