CANNES – Joe Ripp has seen about as many incarnations of Time Inc. as there have been in the digital era. Joining in 1985 as an assistant comptroller, he eventually became SVP, CFO treasurer of the company in 1993 and, a few years later, served a AOL vice-chairman until 2004.
After leaving the stable for senior roles in pharmaceutical, marketing services and several high-profile boards, Ripp returned to the new-look Time Inc, the magazine group, in 2013 as chief executive.
He’s spent 30 years in this most multi-media of companies. So what does Joe Ripp think the next few years have in store?
“I was vice-chairman of AOL in its heyday when it owned the internet – I watched the transformation of that,” he tells Beet.TV. “We are in another transformation all over again. Over-the-top video and the way that millennials consume content, it’s all up for grabs.”
We know that, these days, Time Inc. no longer considers its magazines “magazines”, but as brands – 90 of them – and has big plans for producing video content. Just in the last couple of months, Rip”s Time Inc. has announced plans to move 300 staff over to Brooklyn, where a big new premises will include a studio and facilities for a new brand aimed at young car owners.
And the company is building on existing strengths in interesting new directions. Recently, it acquired four sports information companies, to create its own new division, branded Sports Illustrated Play, that will sell services to youth sports leagues.
Despite having already spent a few decades in the media business, Ripp seems excited about what’s around the corner.
“It couldn’t be a more exciting time in the industry right now,” he says. “When you look forward, it’s still going to be about great content. But it’s going to be about distributing that content and creativity in different ways.”
But Ripp can’t help but sound a word of caution about the exciting changes ahead, which will be ad disruptive as they may be liberating – that’s the business model, of course. Some pretty fundamental questions are posed by the demographic shift of media audiences.
“If people are not watching networks and they’re just buying video on-demand, what’s happening to advertising, how are we going reach those audiences?, Ripp asks. “Who’s going to pay for television, if it’s not supported by advertising, if its subscription-based?”
Ripp was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. The taping took place during the Cannes Lions Festival in 2015. This is part of Beet.TV series title the Media Revolutionaries. The series is sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft.