(E-)Reading the Tea Leaves of Digital Magazines
With ad sales continuing to spiral downward—a recent report from the Publishers Information Bureau found that U.S. magazine publishers posted an 18-percent decline in advertising revenue last year—publishers have been forced into action. At this point, evolution is necessary for survival. Digital magazines have emerged as one attempt at a solution.
Josh Gordon, president of Smarter Media Sales, a publishing consulting firm specializing in strategy for media sales and monetization, talked to Publishing Executive last week about the future of magazine publishing. In particular, digital magazines—and whether publishers can make money from them—were examined. (Editor's note: To hear more of Gordon's thoughts on the future of digital magazines in publishing, register for the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, where he's chairing the Digital Magazine Symposium on Tuesday, March 9.)
INBOX: What challenges confront traditional magazine publishers who are entering the digital magazine marketplace for the first time?
JOSH GORDON: The first thing editors have to do is stop thinking that this is going to be a print magazine. They have to stop looking at their print competitors and saying, "Print magazine competitor A, B and C are doing this; therefore, we should be thinking about doing this." Rather, they need to close all the print magazines, go on the Internet and decide who their editorial competition is. Depending on the industry, it could be blogs, Web sites, companies who have libraries of whitepapers or content used to attract people to their sites, etc. It really depends on where the content is on the Internet.
Once they figure out where the content that they're competing with is, they need to construct an editorial package to compete with it. This is a new point of view for an editor to take—to stop thinking of their editorial competition as other print magazines. But you just don't know where your competition is online. In the print world, there's a couple of magazines that compete. So understanding what your competition is is a relatively easy task. Online, your competition could be a social media network, content posted on Facebook, popular bloggers, e-mail newsletters from consulting companies, among others.