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Getting Out of the Magazine Site Ghetto

Page view strategies for those of you without Lindsay Lohan photos.

Henry Donahue By Henry Donahue
02/25/2008 -10:51 AM

Quote from a media reporter at lunch last week: "Every magazine tells me great things about their Web strategy, then I go back to check their Nielsen traffic and they're too small to be measured."

If you believe the trade magazine box scores, online traffic was a rare Q4 bright spot for magazines last week in a month of mostly bad industry news (newsstand and advertising are down, paper prices keep going up.)

The fact remains however that unless you have swimsuit models or Lindsay Lohan, your magazine site is still sitting below 100 million (and probably 10 million) monthly page views level.

Magazine sites have grown in the past few years by executing against the basics-unique online content updated multiple times per day, blogs, photo galleries, video, podcasts, user-generated content, etc. At this point, though, those features are just the price of admission. The challenge for publishers now is to take a step up out of the magazine site ghetto into competition with the real Internet players.

A typically brief and unscientific survey shows reveals two emerging trends and one time-tested winner among strategies for putting the M back into CPM:

Social Networking. Fast Company is making a notable attempt to supercharge its user profiles into a full-blown social networking site. Though not a consumer site, Variety is also trying its hand at being Facebook-ish.

Blogification. Several sites are jettisoning old-fashioned magazine navigation in favor of a stripped-down blog approach, a la Boing Boing or Gawker. The best example of this is the new I'll be damned if I'm going to link to those guys-so I give you ReadyMade magazine.

Recipes. Not as sexy as social networking or blogs, but a proven strategy built on the original user generated content play. Reader's Digest's gets 30 times the page views of is also above 100 million page views. Epicurious and are also in the topmost tier of magazine sites.

So there you have it. Social networks and blogs are sexy, but apparently not as sexy as a good ratatouille. Now if only I could think of some science-related menus for Discover.


Henry Donahue By Henry Donahue -- Henry Donahue is the CEO of Discover Media LLC, the publisher of Discover magazine and Donahue was formerly CFO of Primedia's Lifestyles Magazine Group, a 30-plus magazine division, which included Soap Opera, Crafts, Boating, Equine and History titles.

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