Q&A: Karl Brown

What is your role at Bauer Media and what’s your background before moving into your current role?

I’m responsible to launch and drive new properties for both Food and Homes.  These are areas where Bauer has a great tradition of being strong in the print world and we’re taking that success online as part of the To LOVE Women’s Network.  The opportunity here is huge.  This is a chance to do it right and tap into gaps in the market that currently exist. 

I’ve worked in digital publishing since the year 2000 having most recently spent time at Microsoft helping to launch the new MSN for Australia and New Zealand and prior to that at ninemsn leading innovation teams for new news products and delivering the digital experience for the London 2012 Olympics, as well as several years in online directories at Reed Business Information and other niche publishers.  Being at Bauer is a great opportunity to drive innovation and build market leading products that are underpinned by the best content in Australia and the heritage of trusted brands.

You work across two of Bauer’s key content pillars – food and homes, what do you see as the key USP’s to Bauer new online destinations?

The online landscape for Food in Australia has been dominated for too few players for quite some time now.  I think there’s a real appetite for users to know that they can trust the recipes that they are accessing and to know that it’s going to work, every time.  The triple testing of the Australian Women’s Weekly recipes certainly does that.  Users want to have a great experience whilst they are using a site, to be able to see amazing images of the food that they are going to cook and to have advertising well integrated into the site rather than ads dominating the content.  As more and more people default to mobiles and tablets in the kitchen the experience whilst cooking also needs to be great as well. 

From a Homes perspective, the landscape very fragmented with everyone from mass market retailers to online pure plays and portal sections all playing a part.  Each of them talk to users at different stages of the buying cycle but none of them tie the entire picture together and allow users to engage whether they are looking for inspiration, education, practical content or the utility of the feature set of the product itself.  Homes To Love will do all of these, all supported by the best homes brands from the print world.

You have recently grown the digital editorial force behind these two new sites, can you give us an insight into the content process to the teams generating content across these two new sites?

Sure, on Food To Love we started by scouring the immense volumes of recipes that Bauer has in its archives.  We focussed on the best of these recipes and converting them to make web ready.  This involved large teams of qualified food sub-editors going through the best of our recipes and assigning them to the appropriate categories, making sure they have great images and so on.  It’s very hard to automate this work – we wanted to avoid a situation where we had ‘fish cakes’ classified as ‘desserts’ so the work has been very manual with our food experts sweating it out for months on end.  Of course, we’re underpinned by amazing brands such as Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Day and others that have been publishing recipes for Australians for many years so this is the backbone of our content.  We also create digital specific content that focusses on food trends, seasonality of fresh produce as well as expanding our content offering to partner with some of the best online video producers to tap into the foodie scene that is so prevalent in Australia right now.

The editorial proposition for Homes To Love replicates our efforts on Food To Love, we start with some of the best and most trusted magazine brands in Australia of Belle, Australian House and Garden, Real Living and Homes + from which we have a great support base of content for the site.  The Homes To Love editorial team does most of the heavy lifting to make this web ready.  The user motivations between mag and digital are quite different, it’s the classic lean in vrs lean back scenario, so repositioning this content to work online is quite a job.  The Homes To Love editorial team will also create its own content, partner where it makes sense as well as highlight new where timeliness is crucial.


Since launching Food to Love, what elements of the site have resonated most with consumers?

We’re getting some great feedback from consumers.  The quality of our user experience, the fact that we have big, beautiful images of our recipes and our careful integration of advertising on the site to compliment the user experience is resonating very well.  More often than not “it just works” is what we hear, and that’s a great place for us to be.  Our brand heritage means that users know that our recipes will work every time.

What value do Bauer Media’s online platforms offer advertisers compared to other networks targeting women? 

We enable advertisers to tap into women’s passions be it around women’s lifestyle, celebrity, food or the home.  The deep engagement that we have with our audience is what gives us our competitive edge.  Our extensive ad targeting capabilities enables targeting at a very granular level and advertisers can connect with women based on the content that women are looking at right now or based on segmentation of their interests.

What’s the point of difference for Homes to Love in the online home maker category?

Not only will we have an awesome content experience supported by the equity of existing brands, we are taking a uniquely Australian approach to our content where high quality imagery with practical advice and attainable products sets us apart from international pure plays, mass market retailers and legacy portal sections that currently make up the majority of the category.  Homes To Love will be a single source to satisfy a woman’s needs with regard to interior design & home improvements.


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