For a media company like ours, there is always something rather unnatural about looking back. Here we are, already deep in 2016, looking back on 2015. It was a year in which, as we announced, we radically restructured our organisation. This took its toll on our employees. The results that we present for 2015 reflect this, and these are in line with our expectations. We started this transition so that, both now and especially in the future, we can do even better what we do best: creating relevant content and distributing it with the speed, intensity, volume and dynamics that consumers expect.
The world is getting smaller all the time. The speed at which we make and distribute content is unprecedented. New forms of distribution continue to arise in the wake of rapidly developing technologies. At the same time, consumers are being flooded with offers. Social, political and economic issues are more complex than ever. All of this has implications for our position as a media company: where and how can we add value?
We believe we can add value by returning to the core, i.e., creating and distributing content in which news plays an important part. We add value for journalism that not only reports, but that also serves as a guide or navigator for consumers. More than ever, consumers need help in selecting and interpreting what is happening around them. In the volatile, hectic pace of life today, people increasingly feel the need for accurate information and for overview − boiled down to the essence and fast. And this is a trend that will only gain in momentum.
Along with all our other strong brands, De Telegraaf, which is the daily newspaper with the largest reach in the Netherlands, is singularly well-placed to fulfil this function as a guide. We aim to take this role upon ourselves even more prominently than before, to offer people what they need, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is a mission in which we can confidently lead the way.
In 2015, we had to implement a large number of restructuring measures to prepare us for this role. Inevitably, they cut deep into the organisation, but they were necessary to help us anticipate and sharpen our focus. Already, we have taken steps to improve our liquidity position, raising sustainable cost awareness within the organisation and rationalising our product portfolio. We have also invested heavily in IT, particularly to enhance the dynamics of our data, and develop more data-driven propositions. We have bundled and unified our back-office support activities. And above all, we have taken an approach to developing our people. We recognise that we can only make media that matters if we have the right knowledge and skills, coupled with a healthy dose of entrepreneurship and courage. That is why we have set up a group-wide talent development and leadership programme. We also took steps to ensure that everyone understands our new direction and is fully engaged. During several rounds of internal and external knowledge transfer sessions, we explained to employees and business partners why we are taking this course: to make sure consumers can decide themselves what they want to watch or listen to, where and when they want it. That is why the consumer is always in the spotlight, also in this Annual Report.
The past year was also marked by increased collaboration, both internally and externally. Internally, we have set up shared editorial and customer management systems, as well as coordinated cross-selling activities. We have also improved our internal communication infrastructures, which has included the launch of a social intranet. By working more closely together, we can offer readers, listeners and viewers even more quality content. Together, we can create innovative revenue models for our content and marketing partners. In today’s market, the need for such collaboration is urgent.
Where possible, we are also entering into new and innovative external partnerships, with the aim of developing cross-media projects that consumers will find surprising and attractive. We find that many external parties who want to reach specific target groups are interested in joining forces with us. We believe such links will enable both sides to innovate and reinforce their activities in a creative, mutually beneficial manner.
Finally, we have also accelerated the development and expansion of our online propositions (such as VROUW.nl, Relatieplanet and the Sky Radio Group channels) with even faster, richer and more customised content, and supported by solid IT backbones. We can already be proud of the huge quantity of high-quality content we have in the digital field (including excellent reach figures). The bundling of non-title-related online activities in TMG Digital as of 1 January 2016 will enable us to draw on this strength even more extensively throughout TMG.
In short, in 2015, TMG definitely got into a higher gear. For advertisers and content partners, we seized joint opportunities and developed new formulas. For consumers, we made better, more surprising and more accessible 24/7 content. For employees, we created an inspiring work environment, with room for entrepreneurship and new ideas. For shareholders, by innovating and rationalising our operations, which leads to sustainable profit. And for society, we carefully monitored our production and editorial formulas, while raising awareness of our social impact in both thought and action. For us, this goes far beyond LED bulbs and fair-trade coffee. We have an impact on people, society and the environment. We see sustainability, in the widest sense of the word, as an integral part of our business strategy. As a media company, we can – and will – play a leading role here. In this Annual Report, we are therefore taking our next step towards integrated reporting.
In 2016, we will continue to develop new propositions, in which consumers will be in the spotlight. Do they want a newspaper six days a week? Or only on Saturday, and online during the week? Do they want to stream pop or just classical music? We will be presenting a tailor-made offer, based on our extensive in-house knowledge about what consumers want to hear, read and see − for example, through combined subscriptions of various TMG media. Our recently announced partnership with Talpa will also give a powerful impetus to our propositions. We will also be fine-tuning our commercial processes and back-office support to align with this drive. Consumers will be at the heart.
For advertisers and media agencies, we will be introducing new marketing models, replacing traditional advertising rates. We already took an important first step in this direction in 2015, when we tightened our commercial and pricing policies. We will continue to accelerate implementation of these initiatives, and expect tangible results in 2016.
Finally, we would like to thank all our employees, readers, listeners, viewers, content partners, advertisers, shareholders and other stakeholders for their dedication, commitment and trust in TMG. As a Board, we are proud of what has been achieved in 2015. In our view, the momentum that has built up within our organisation over the past year provides a promising starting point for the successful achievement of our ambitions and goals in 2016.
Geert-Jan van der Snoek and Leo Epskamp
Amsterdam, 8 March 2016