For 35 years—mostly living in Manhattan—I have owned a car. This past weekend I gave up my car at lease-end and did not replace it. I realized that in four years I hadn’t driven 9,000 miles and the cost and annoyance of owning was not worth it. I could rent when needed.
I decided to use the cathartic experience to think of what else I don’t need (another glass of wine…well…). Could I give up magazines? I’m a magazine junky (I’ve had a New Yorker sub since 12). I counted. I get 28, mostly monthlies, meaning likely 300 issues in my mailbox each year. It’s staggering and impossible to get through.
Then I thought about my day and what I do. My iPad is always in my hands and I’ve prepared two icons to sort my magazines (plus those that annoyingly insist upon going into the “Newsstand”). They range from some highly unsatisfactory replicas of print to some innovative replicas (The Economist) to very robust offerings that have expanded my love of a brand (my favorite is The Atlantic).
I do still read many magazines in print, but far fewer than I used to (indeed, it is often the ads that turn me to print over digital). My tablet content has become my first place to read while many magazines have become coffee table decorations.
To me, the future belongs to the media companies that get out ahead with the technology and really understand how audiences are consuming their content and serve it up to individuals in the manner they want it. Yes, individuals. At Penton, we are meshing metrics and asking subscribers about what experience they want. We then—sometimes not easily—develop product around it. Moving the revenue dial is going to be about moving with the users and coming up with the experiences that will make them need you—wherever that is. It is where that triumvirate—publisher, editor and audience development—need to come together and solve user experiences.
Clever serving of content can be about pushing the needle on print, too. This Sunday morning, New York experimented with delivering this week’s issue to my front door testing a “VIP hand delivery service.” Now that’s brilliance. This wasn’t about technology, it was about strategy and figuring out the right time to reach me. And, by the way, they got me to re-up, too.
Warren Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, at Penton Media.