Last week, Peter Sprague, CEO of enthusiast publisher Premier Guitar, offered predictions and analysis of the magazine market in 2010, particularly around the digital push during a FOLIO: Webinar called "State of the Art in Digital Magazines." Sprague’s comments ranged from critiquing the surge in electronic devices used by publishers to criticism of current multi-media audit efforts.
Why should you care? At a time when many publications are hanging on by their fingertips, Premier Guitar posted a 35 percent increase in ad revenue in 2009 and is up 40 percent to date in 2010. They must be doing something right.
Below, are several of Sprague’s more notable observations:
"We find advertisers and agencies utterly befuddled by the conflicting claims between channels-print versus Internet versus broadcast etc. We’ve integrated it, so one signature gives exposure across all platforms."
"ABC and BPA have served the industry well but think they’ve been beholden to print-centric members and they will become increasingly passé if they don’t learn how to do multimedia auditing. Third party verification tools are phenomenal. We pay for Google’s Urchin—we pay a lot of money for it because it allows you to do such a deep dive into metrics. We have a theory of transparency—customers see the same reports we see."
"We can go in and see the ISPs of who’s reading our newsletters and digital editions. If we send out newsletters and see 15 people from Guitar Center ISPs, the manufacturers respond quickly."
"We’re selling sponsorships against our iApp–"Free download brought to you by…" For our learning network, Guitar Edge, we offer manufacturers a way to sponsor song downloads in our digital editions. We offer 50,000 copies of licensed content and it’s usually gone in 72 hours. Soon we will be monetizing song content on the iPad as well."
"We’re seeing session length of 13 minutes with our mobile apps, which we use to send daily content and videos. Yes, you can read our magazine in its entirety on the apps but the greatest application is in real time dissemination of news."
"We’ve done research against 119,000 people as a sample and the iPhone wins over the Droid in terms of hardware but the AT&T system is such that the Droid has a tremendous opportunity."
"I’m not convinced that digital single issues will succeed. We will test it but I don’t think it will live up to the hype."
"We will see more publishers start offering free/paid content distinctions on their sites. Most will fail (if newspapers have shown us anything)."
"We accept the digital exchange of analog dollars for digital quarters-it’s worth looking at the dissemination issue, the benefits of real time access and being able to demonstrate how readers are interacting with advertisers beyond archaic bingo cards."
"The death of print is grossly exaggerated. Despite all our content being freely accessible online, our print circulation is going up. Meanwhile, our demographic reader profile is going down-we’re seeing younger readers starting to buy print. It seems paradoxial but the numbers are compelling. Still, our digital audience today exceeds print by a factor of 20."
"We never rent names, we never lease names, and we poll [readers] constantly on what products interest them, and then sell them those products. We’re becoming a multimedia retailer."