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How Fortune is expanding its European footprint

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As U.K.-based publishers look towards the U.S. advertising market, U.S.-based Fortune is turning its attention in the opposite direction. 

Eyeing an opportunity to extend its Fortune 500 lists, events franchises, digital reach – as well as its magazine – to an audience of business executives and advertisers in Europe, the business publication is ready to plant deeper roots on the continent with Fortune Europe.

In addition to three new executive hires and a promotion to the Europe leadership team, the company, which is owned by Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon, is rolling out new content specifically covering the region; increasing its print distribution to cities including London, Paris, Zurich and Milan with unique covers for Europe; and is adding more lists and event franchises.

In 2022, Fortune’s managing director of Europe, Jim Jacovides, joined a handful of editorial writers in London and was tasked with building a standalone Europe team. Over the past two years, he slowly accumulated a team of 13 full-time editorial, ad sales and lists staffers. Until July 2023, however, Fortune relied on a third-party sales exec to sell the business title to clients throughout Europe, though Jacovides said that those deals were largely centered around reaching a U.S. audience. Now, Fortune Europe is in the process of increasing that employee base to 35 by the end of 2024. 

Alex Wood Morton is joining the leadership ranks as the executive editor for Fortune Europe and will oversee the editorial and content operations. Irena Raltcheva will oversee advertising and sponsorship revenue as commercial director for Europe and Peter Vanham was promoted from the author of Fortune’s CEO Weekly Europe newsletter to editorial director of leadership, in which he will be tasked with forming a community of European-based C-suite execs. 

Throughout 2024, Jacovides said there are plans to hire a few editorial staffers, six more salespeople and a research analyst for the Lists team that will report to Grethe Schepers who is joining Fortune as the List director in Europe. Later this spring, the London team will upgrade its office space to a larger footprint within a WeWork in the city’s financial district.

Fortune tested the waters in the market before deciding the full-scale investment of building a dedicated team for Europe was worth it and determined there was enough evidence in the audience upticks from this region. In 2023, total page views by European readers on increased 44% year over year, while digital subscriptions increased by 30% year over year in the U.K., 25% in Germany and 25% in France, according to a company spokesperson. They declined to share the total readership or subscriber size. Last fall, the publication also launched the Fortune 500 Europe list and coming out in October will be the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For Europe list. 

Generating the C-level audience is particularly critical to Fortune’s business aspirations in the region. “That C-suite audience is gold. It’s a really important audience to reach … we think we can do it here. We already have indicators,” said Jacovides. 

Jacovides said the company isn’t measuring the success for the European expansion by the percentage of revenue it’s contributing to Fortune’s bottom line by the end of the year. There are goals for the revenue Fortune Europe generates in 2024, though he declined to share exactly what those goals are. As of March 19, Fortune Europe is 30% to that annual goal, he said.

Revenue will come from advertising, the priority being around direct-sold sponsorships vs. programmatic, as well as subscriptions and its lists and events franchises, which bring in other revenue streams including licensing. 

“Our audience is best monetized, not on a CPM basis, but directly. It’s high touch, really custom – it has to be more subtle than just a programmatic sale,” said Jacovides. “[We’re] trying to really build a robust, profitable business here.” 

Having another outlet to reach a “business-focused B2B audience” in the U.K. only has upsides, said Charlotte Powers, head of digital at U.K.-based media agency Bountiful Cow. But only if that audience responds to Fortune’s content, franchises and events.  

“What’s key is just making sure that obviously the content within the site is relevant to a U.K. market if they’re going to be speaking directly to U.K. advertisers and U.K. brands,” said Powers. 

And while Powers said Fortune is welcome to play in this space, business media is not currently an uncrowded market in the U.K. and E.U., adding that media buyers are “spoiled for choice” in this category. She suggested that Fortune prioritize flexibility in its pitches to advertisers in order to break into the ad market. 

“While they grow their scale in the U.K., they might need to lean into offering their content programmatically to get a few campaigns under their belt and just see how it works and how a U.K. audience reacts to their content,” Powers said.

Editor’s note: changes were made to this story on March 20 to provide clearer context or explanations regarding statements made by Jim Jacovides, Fortune’s managing director of Europe.

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