Publishers: Print Readership Declines and Increasing Costs Are Biggest Challenges
A panel discussion involving representatives magazine, newspaper and newsletter companies told members of the Hudson Valley Direct Marketing Association Wednesday that their biggest challenges lie in declining print readership, growing new revenue streams and increases in the cost of doing business. “Between growing new revenues and managing increased costs like postage and paper increases, it’s like we’re running faster and faster just to stay in place,” said Alec Casey, group consumer marketing director of the men’s titles at Hearst. “We have to be more and more creative and find more ways to increase revenue.”
The event titled, “Meet the Magazine and Newspaper Professionals,” took place at a luncheon at the Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, and focused on how magazine and newspaper companies are dealing with an environment in which more readers and more advertisers are focused on digital, as opposed to print properties. “Our biggest challenge is declining readership,” said Jim Bieber, senior marketing manager at The New York Times, adding that the average age of Times print audience is over 40 and aging, while its online audience, the third largest for an online publication, is most popular with 20- to 30-somethings.
Bieber said the company is having luck in marketing niche magazines for specialized markets, such as real estate. “We’re coming out with new targeted publications to give advertisers a more streamlined vehicle to reach their targeted audiences.”
When asked by panel moderator, Rich Mercado, of Madison Direct Marketing, why magazines are shrinking in size, many said it was because more advertisers are moving to an online only strategy of marketing their products and services. “There is a trend going on where advertising dollars are up or in some cases flat, but pages are down,” Casey said. “The problem is how to bring more advertising into the printed magazine. And we’re doing that by explaining to advertisers why magazines are a different advertising medium. Forget online, magazines have something nothing else has, engagement.”
Casey said readers of magazines tend to engage completely in the publication while reading, while people reading information on the Internet tend to be doing other activities simultaneously, like watching TV or talking on the phone.
Chris Purcell, director of Consumer Marketing for BusinessWeek magazine, said his publication has begun using its “quality audience” as a means of bringing advertisers back into its print title. “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” he said. “We reduced our circulation by 70,000 last year and the impact was nothing. Instead, our advertisers like what they heard and that’s that they’re investing in quality readership.”