The Digital Initiative: MPA President and CEO Nina Link on the growth consumer magazines are experiencing online
INBOX: What have been the most effective actions you have seen successful consumer magazine publishers take to attract their chunk of the growing audience to their online presence?
LINK: I think that different categories have been very effective in using different assets of the digital space. Not every brand should be using every application. I think there are some that are using user-generated content. … There are some that have wiki applications which work for that brand. There are some interesting partnerships with portals like Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo and YouTube. [Magazines] are content engines. Applications are only as good as the content that uses them. I think there have been some exciting partnerships. I think using video, for a medium that has not been a video medium [has been effective]. … We have a video conference coming up in June because there is such a focus now on video. There are also lots of blogs. That’s another area where we’ve seen a lot of activity. …
INBOX: When you look at the list of publishers that announced digital initiatives during the first quarter of 2008, what patterns do you see in what has become core to drawing readers online?
LINK: You’re talking partnerships, you’re talking user-generated content. Those areas are big. I think some of the partnerships with Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube … [are attempts to] try to bring that brand and the attributes of the brand to big huge portals, and they’re figuring out that relationship. User-generated content is big. I just read about a magazine today that is creating an entire user-generated issue.
INBOX: What types of digital initiatives are you seeing publishers moving toward that they may not have not gotten involved with just a few years ago?
LINK: There’s a lot more experimentation with mobile. People see in Europe and in Asia that the mobile platform is much more widespread and used. There’s experimenting. I still think it’s clunky because of our different mobile platforms and lack of any kind of standards. Some systems are more open and more are closed. It’s a hard thing here, and mobile is not as deeply adopted as it is in the rest of the world. It will be. People are trying to find the solutions there.