No One Knows
Consumer magazines, especially the big ones, are obsessed with print ads. It’s what they live for. At the end of the conversation, it’s really the only thing they think is important. Hit the number, show growth in PIB. They talk about other stuff, but the jury is out whether they really believe.
That’s dangerous. Do they know it?
A year ago I wrote in this space that b-to-b publishers were much farther along than b-to-c publishers in adapting their businesses for online media. Through the use of blogs, Webinars, RSS, White Papers and more, b-to-b has cracked the code and now, e-media revenue is in some cases growing faster in real-dollar terms than print is declining. This is huge.
But are consumer titles also catching on? Reading through the stories our team has written for this issue, I see where some consumer-magazine publishers, like Runner’s World’s Andy Hersam, American Media’s Gary Berger and a host of respondents to our second annual consumer-magazine CEO survey, seem to have gotten religion. Effectively selling marketers is “about coming in with a 360-degree plan on how to use your brand,” Hersam says on page 57. Says AMI’s Berger, on page 90: “Cross-platform selling is what is getting it done for us.”
I believe them, but overall I’m skeptical. Our survey reveals a print-centric world, with circulation sales significant and e-media in the mid-single digits as a percentage of revenue. Yes, many of the respondents cite e-media as fast growing, but how central is e-media perceived to be?
It should be absolutely central. What’s dominating media news? Social networking online. The rise of online media like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, blogging, the latest Google innovation. Marketers get that. Last summer’s marketing sensation was the viral video clip “Tea Partay,” a spoof of the super rich featuring preppy white rappers. Of course, the clip was also a commercial for Smirnoff’s “Raw Teas,” and according to reports had generated over a million views by early September.
What does that campaign represent in terms of lost magazine revenue? What does it represent in terms of a look at the future?
Consumer-magazine publishers like to talk about how magazines will never go away, and how they create an emotional connection, form an unduplicated bond, etc. I definitely can’t see a future without print magazines.
But no one knows.