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“Added value for the customer – at all levels”

alfa Media has been incorporating HUP AG’s subscription & distribution solution into its own product and delivery portfolio for about a year now. Jens Emmerich, CEO alfa Media, and HUP board member Dirk Westenberger on the next steps and what the integration of the most advanced solutions of both market drivers will really bring customers.

One year of strategic cooperation. Did you make the right choice?
Jens Emmerich: alfa Media already traditionally offers its customers a distribution system, but our own was no longer state-of-the-art. Since there is a greater demand for an integrated distribution system, we were looking for a partner in order to be able to continue to offer an optimal set-up in this area as well. After careful consideration and product testing, the decision was made for the sophisticated and flexible system of HUP AG …

… and?
Jens Emmerich: Many of our customers are very satisfied that we can give them a clear recommendation. The interest is there, but as you know, the decision-making processes in our industry are somewhat longer. Therefore HUP AG and we have to be patient. However, the intensity of the discussions so far gives us reason to be optimistic.

Dirk Westenberger: We on the part of HUP AG are happy with the response and there is no reason to be low stacked. With the Siegener Zeitung we have already won our first joint customer in 2018 and the next ones are already at the start. The combination of HUP and alfa meets attentive listeners. In addition, the performance of our products and the high level of integration in and for the future are convincing.

Where do you see the greatest advantages of this cooperation from the customer’s point of view?
Jens Emmerich: First of all, these are soft factors. The chemistry between us is right. Alfa and HUP – that simply works, on a human and professional level. Customers have great advantages and added value at all levels as a result of the merger of our systems. In addition, some of our employees have already worked in both companies and thus developed a very good understanding.

Dirk Westenberger: “Thanks to the intensive and open exchange of information within the framework of such a partnership, we can supply our customers with the best product for them. It may sound simple and in the end it is. The people who drive a joint project forward, their know-how and mutual trust are the key to success.

Jens Emmerich: Right. In this way, we can offer the 360-degree service that many people talk about but do not put on the road in practice.

You would like to be concrete …
Jens Emmerich: There are so many examples, I will pick out one: If a customer places an ad in our online ad acceptance system, he or she can also be given a trial subscription at the same time, thus exploiting up-sale potential in a single step, increasing customer satisfaction and generating additional revenue. We use these small but subtle additional workflows for our publishing customers. In the end, these are also the key to success.

alfa Media and HUP AG are two competitors who work together in sub-areas of their core business. But that’s not always uncomplicated now, is it?
Dirk Westenberger: The choice of good cooperation and consequently the combination of the best assets from different worlds will prevail. The automotive industry, even the publishing houses, are showing us the way. Delivery trunks are shared, software is used jointly – and there is no end in sight. This is a good thing because it ensures quality. It is important for HUP AG to be a partner in this process of change, a central contact for every publishing house and every company looking for a solution within the scope of digitisation.

Jens Emmerich: “I am convinced that the form of finding solutions together will be increasingly used and necessary in the future. The goal must be to find the optimal solution for all market participants, primarily, of course, for customers. Nobody has the strength to get these development steps on the road in a timely manner on their own.

Dirk Westenberger: alfa Media and HUP AG have had good experiences with cooperation and the exchange of knowledge. And HUP is already bringing the industry together in the HUP Customer Scrumbles, where the competence of all market participants meets operationally at one table.

Doesn’t this conflict result in losing the focus or positioning that HUP AG and alfa Media stand for?

Jens Emmerich: The customers have a good feeling for the strengths and expertise of a service provider. HUP AG is strong in sales and logistics topics, and alfa is at the forefront of the advertising system. In practice, there will be no difficulties at this point.

Dirk Westenberger: In the context of a good partnership and a consulting mandate towards customers, it is fair and clearly defined that customers who might be better off with the partner are also referred there.

What are the next steps? In love, engaged, married?
Dirk Westenberger: Now slowly with the rumor formation. But we actually have a lot on our plate. This initially includes the permanent development of a highly integrated interface between the two system worlds. To this end, we have launched the UNITY Scrumble, in which customers meet with us and define where integration can best take effect operationally. This is basically how a system is created.

What do you think are the big trends in the media business?
Jens Emmerich: There is still a lot of need for digitization. In addition, AI (artificial intelligence) can give us an incredible boost to all companies active in the media business. We already have various products under test. These include an automated layout machine with AI, which is intended to strengthen our editor so that he can do typesetting and also create content. The AI copywriters will accompany us into (the) future. Not everyone likes to hear that. Either way, the potential is huge.

Dirk Westenberger: For me, there are also two main areas that are driving the industry forward: further qualified content marketing for the increasingly hybrid customer and everything that happens in the area of sales/logistics over the last mile. Here, media houses can either make up lost ground or even win land.

Mr. Emmerich, Mr. Westenberger, thank you very much for the interview.

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