Meet Ranj Begley, Chief Content Officer and Managing Director UK at Readly

12 November 2020

With a platform consisting of nearly 5,000 national and international magazines, Readly is one of the leading companies in digital magazine subscriptions in Europe. The Link met with Ranj Begley, Chief Content Officer and Managing Director UK at SCC member Readly, to discuss how Readly keeps up with a fast changing market and utilises technology to meet the demands of both subscribers and publishers.

When Ranj Begley received an email out of the blue, from someone in Sweden wanting to meet her with ‘a very interesting business proposition’, she deleted it. He didn’t give up, and after a few email exchanges, Ranj met this persistent Swede for a coffee. “When I discussed the concept with a few of my peers they strongly advised me not to do it. I would be taking a huge risk,” Ranj recalls. “This was a random Swedish company no one knew anything about. Why give up a well-paid job to run something that could fail? Reverse psychology tactics always worked on me – in January 2014, I started my new role at Readly and spent my first week at the head office in Växjö.”

Before joining Readly, Ranj worked in the media industry within publishing and RRM subscriptions management. “One thing we are passionate about at Readly is encouraging more people – especially the younger generation – to read and enjoy these fantastic magazine brands. I’ve always grown up with magazines, adopting and discovering new titles throughout the various stages of my life,” Ranj adds.

The Readly eco-system
When Joel Wikell, Founder of Readly, was on vacation, he soon had read all the magazines he brought with him, but the music playlists did not end and could be played on repeat. This was when the idea of Readly was born – to have unlimited access to digital magazines directly through an app. Later the same year, Readly was launched in 2012 in the city of Växjö, and has since then expanded to inter- national markets such as the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. During 2019, Readly distributed more than 120,000 issues of magazines that have been read 83 million times. Unlike many other businesses, Readly serves both the subscribers and the publishers. “Our job is to present the content from the publishers in the best and most interesting way to the subscribers so that they can be entertained, educated, and even find new hobbies or interests. In this way, the publishers also get to know their readers,” Ranj explains. “We call it the Readly eco-system. Our ambition and our opportunity lies in bringing the magic of magazines to the masses”.

Using best practises from around the globe
Readly is now six years old and the team is well-accustomed to working across markets, Ranj explains: “I love the fact that we are now a global organisation and that we can pick and choose the best practices from around the globe. Agility, new concepts and ideas come in abundance from Sweden, efficiency and solid processes are best put in place by our German office, and we get creativity and excellent communication from the UK team.” Ranj continues by highlighting the importance of the team’s wellbeing. ”At Readly, we strive to create a workplace where the teams are engaged, happy and healthy. Our culture strategy is deeply rooted within the workforce, with all employees working towards the same goal, to bring the magic of magazines into the future. We are proud of the fact that we are such a diverse team. It really lends itself to our performance and, most importantly, our ability to quickly adapt to suit our readers and our publisher clients.”

Think globally – from a UK perspective
Being a UK native, familiar with the culture and knowledge of the industry and how to navigate the market, Ranj was able to create a network and get publishers on board, as Readly was taking its first steps into the UK market. The UK market differs from other European markets because the English language is so widely spoken, and thereby enables a large group of users around the world to read content from the British publishers. “However, Readly provides an excellent selection of content from all their markets”, Ranj highlights. “When it comes to content I have trained myself to think globally, but if I zoom in on the UK market, it is to convince the last few naysayers that they are missing out by not being on Readly. We can see from our extensive back office data that our publisher clients really do get a lot out of being on the platform, not just in terms of revenue, but also in the analytics and intelligence they gain.” Ranj explains.

More sophisticated solutions
A lot has happened within the technology sector since Readly was launched and it continues to change at a rapid speed. Ranj explains how the online magazine technology has developed: “Over the last few years, the product has become more sophisticated, moving from flat, pinch-and-zoom PDF replicas of print magazines into something much more dynamic. Consumers are wanting more things added to the core UX: more intuitive search for article topics, website hyperlinks, embedded audio, social sharing and automatic optimisation for different devices.” The consumers need services to be customised to the modern lifestyle, and since it is of great importance to keep up, Ranj highlights that Readly constantly is working on developing their product. One function is for example “Featured Articles feed”, which aims to provide content quickly and on the go for the users. Looking into the future, the developments within the industry will continue to evolve. “The technology sector will need to be fast on its feet to accommodate the needs of the increasingly sophisticated consumer,” Ranj adds.

Attitudes towards content are changing
With new technologies and an increasing amount of news and content available through various platforms, it can be difficult to navigate among the wide selection online. “We are living in interesting times and attitudes towards journalism and content are changing at a phenomenal rate. We are overcome with phrases like ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truths’ and the notion that people are unwittingly putting themselves into news echo chambers on social media platforms is becoming an issue,” Ranj explains.

Enabling the discovery of content
Readly continues to work towards the goal to bring their publishers’ content to the subscribers in different ways. “Our job is to enable the discovery of our publisher’s brilliant content so that our customers are engaged, entertained, educated and encouraged to explore new hobbies and passions”, Ranj explains. Ranj also highlights Readly’s purpose to present the publishers’ content in the best way, and thereby offer and enable new interests and hobbies to the readers. “One thing is for certain... the human race will always have the desire to read and learn, and as long as they continue to do this Readly will serve its purpose,” Ranj concludes.

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