Ziff Davis CEO Weitzner Says Move to All Digital Reflects a 'Tipping Point'
Weitzner says the digital editions will at first look like traditional magazines, with familiar spreads for editorial and ads, but that the company may in the future experiment with non-traditional layouts. (He cited as an example women's style and beauty magazine The Kit, a digital edition formatted for mobile.) "As people get more used to this, we will look at the horizontal aspect and say, 'Why does editorial fit on two pages facing each other? Why does it have to fall into that horizontal canvas?'"
Important to the OmniDigital strategy is a new measurement system designed to track audience behaviors in ways that were impossible with printed and mailed magazines. "Print was the last silo in my business," Weitzner said. "Everywhere else I touched the audience I knew what they opened, what they looked at, how long they looked at it and where they went from there. In print, all that just goes away."
Weitzner says he expects data tracking to help offset the skepticism of ad agencies, some of whom lag behind his IT audience and advertisers in understanding the new media landscape.
Citing a new CTIA-The Wireless Association survey finding 327,000,000 active wireless connections in the U.S.—more than one per person in the country—Weitzner says "we've kind of hit a tipping point." While print ads may see some recovery in the near future, he believes overall trends toward digital are clear. The key now is for publishers and marketers to understand how to engage audiences and provide an immersive platform.
"There's a lot of religion around print," he notes. "When I say, 'It's still a magazine, it's just not paper,' [the agencies] go, 'Well then, it's not print.' Agencies and budgets are divided by print and digital as opposed to magazine and Web."