Budget Brainstorming: The Digital Push
Budget season is on the horizon and magazine executives will soon be busy hashing out the details of the financial forecasts for 2008. With print revenues flat across much of the industry, a number of magazines will continue to invest in online initiatives in hopes of growing revenues and keeping up with the competition.
“The biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the independent media are all the same item: development of new media,” says Ogden Publications publisher Bryan Welch. “For enthusiast media entrepreneurs like us, the Internet is the most powerful and valuable tool ever set before us.”
Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Fast Company and Inc. magazines, is planning to initiate a three-year plan to put more than $10 million incremental investment into its digital operation. “For 2008, we will increase spending across the board by an average of about 10 percent, getting the money from increased revenue,” Mansueto Ventures CEO John Koten says. “We are investing disproportionately in online, however, not just in our online business as a media property but in our online business as a source of data and information and as a social-networking platform.”
New Track Media resident and CEO Stephen Kent says the company in 2008 will invest a significant amount of money on digital projects. The same goes for Whitaker Publishing’s 417 Magazine. “Our biggest investment area is in online development,” says owner/publisher Gary Whitaker. “With the build out of our site and hiring of a web production specialist, we will have spent about $100,000 in 2007 and plan to spend at least that amount in 2008.”
Despite revenue growth potential for online projects, a number of magazines are realizing that finding help to develop those projects isn’t always easy, executives say. “Right now, web development is taking place in a contemporary Wild West where many of the vendors are shady and many of the products are snake oil,” says Odgen Publications publisher Welch. “Finding a path through this environment to the promising land of opportunity on the other side is a formidable challenge.”