How to Reach The Next Generation of Readers
Like seemingly every other magazine category, teen and young-adult titles have taken a beating in the past decade, with consolidation and the print advertising downward spiral forcing the closure of renowned brands -- 16, YM, Teen, Teen Beat, Teen People, just to name a few. As retailers cowered or went dark across the nation, print magazines lost some of their best distribution allies-especially teen titles, many of which rely on those single-copy sales.
Publishing Executive asked publishers and editors about the challenges of publishing for this audience-to print, the web, and mobile devices-and how they've been able to compel young readers to love to read magazines. While the content in this category runs the gamut from celebrity insights to science and technology, there are some important commonalities among this target demographic: This generation of young readers is smart, articulate -- opinionated even -- and tethered to their smartphones.
Publishing More with Less
It hasn't been an encouraging year so far for teen titles, according to Scott Laufer, publisher of Laufer Media, which puts out popular teen titles Tiger Beat and BOP. Laufer confides that revenues for the company are down by approximately five percent from last year. Much of that has to do with the downfall of key retailers, and the overall decline in retail foot traffic. Laufer intends to "beef up" promotions with the large retail partners that remain.
With that said, digital publishing has become essential to further engaging print fans and reaching prospective audiences. "Over the past few years, we've learned so much," says Laufer. "And what we've done digitally has been trial and error. But the experience they're looking for-whether online or in a tablet version, or on mobile-is a different experience than print. They want to play with it a lot more. So we have far more games and contests and things to involve them on the digital platforms."
Watching young readers' behaviors and preferences, Laufer has concluded that they're less intrigued by desktop access to the website, slightly more interested in tablet apps, but especially interested in smartphone apps. "We've had to gear things toward the phone, simplify things, and format it for a smaller screen. And now that we've done that, traffic has picked up on that end tremendously," says Laufer.