To Thrive, Magazine Publishers Need to Embrace Digital Media

Bryan Yeager
Oct 24, 2012

Last week’s announcement that the print edition of Newsweek magazine would cease at the end of 2012 shined a spotlight on the digital disruption that has accelerated business transformation for traditional publishers. It’s not like magazine publishers have their head in the sand; for over a decade, they have been forging ahead in a digital direction, trying a variety of strategies and tactics to grow their digital audience, increase online ad revenue, and monetize their content. Nevertheless, the sheer velocity of transformation in the last few years has forced magazine publishers of all sizes (and media companies in general) to be much more agile and innovative.

Magazines clearly remain an attractive outlet for advertisers, especially as digital channels attract new audiences and provide engaging and measurable advertising experiences. To that point, the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) recently released research conducted by Kantar Media highlighting that the number of brands advertising in magazine media—including print, web, and tablet channels—grew from just over 9,500 in the first half of 2010 to almost 15,000 in the first half of 2012. Advertisers value magazine media, especially as it extends to more interactive, data-rich channels.In that same release, MPA highlighted data from McPheters & Company iMonitor showing that in the past two years, the number of branded magazine mobile apps available in the U.S. grew substantially from 192 in Q3 2010 to over 1,700 in Q3 2012. While larger consumer publishers were at the forefront of mobile app development during the initial launch of the iPad, the overnight success of that device and widespread adoption of smart mobile technology in general is putting digital strategy in the sights of all publishers.

Despite the sunsetting of Newsweek’s print edition—which may have more to do with the outdated concept of a weekly news magazine—many publishers will undoubtedly maintain strong print brands of many titles for years to come because it’s valuable to their readers and advertisers. Print cannot survive in a vacuum, however. Print and digital teams need to collaborate effectively to develop more engaging online and mobile experiences by blending the best elements of layout design, interactive design, editorial content, and advertising content. Furthermore, publishers have an unprecedented opportunity to bring readers and advertisers closer together through integrated eCommerce, which can provide exponential value across the media value chain.

Goals in a digital strategy can be achieved through innovation and agility, which is reached through proper organizational structuring, leveraging the right technologies, and following important best practices. Because these issues are extremely important to the future of magazine publishing, InfoTrends recommends attending the MediaNext Show, which is being held on Monday, October 29 through Wednesday, October 31 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. MediaNext has educational sessions and an exhibition that focus on the transformation of digital media and how publishers effectively deal with the myriad of platforms now available to them. To receive a discount on your registration, enter promo code INFOTRENDS after clicking here.

UPDATE: The MediaNext show has been postponed until January 8-10, 2013 due to severe weather. Please visit their website for more information.

To learn more about how InfoTrends can provide guidance to help companies manage the shift to digital marketing and media, please feel free to contact me.

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