The Magazine Brand: Same As It Ever Was
The October issue of Publishing Executive is all about brands. As the venerable BoSacks explains in his column, brands have been around for a long time. And brands in the magazine industry are nothing new either. It's just that our conception of what a magazine brand is and can be is evolving.
That can lead to a bit of an identity crisis. But it can also be liberating. In the feature "Brand Extensions," writer Dan Eldridge surveys how several publishers are experimenting with new ways to trade on their good name. "There's certainly nothing new, or even particularly unusual, about magazine publishers trading on the public recognition of their brands to create new lines of consumer products and services," says Eldridge. "But as the realignment of the publishing industry continues, a new normal seems to have emerged: one in which tenacious publishers must consistently create entirely new sources of revenue and extend their brands into new, profitable territory." In this feature publishers reveal their latest forays into streaming video, licensed goods, and brick-and-mortar retail.
One extension of this experimentation is ecommerce. Many publishers are attempting to broaden their revenue streams with ecommerce initiatives that are powered by the natural synergy of content and purchasing. Most of the publishers we spoke with are gravitating toward relatively hands-off affiliate ecommerce programs powered by strong editorial voices and curated consumer goods.
For "Connecting the Data Dots" I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Rick McFarland, Hearst Corporation's vice president of data services. McFarland is focused on mapping out a data superhighway so the sprawling media company can accelerate its business and make its content more intelligent and responsive. If I had to pick one topic to report on for the publishing industry in 2015, it would be on data, so I consider my conversation with McFarland to be an appetizer for more data coverage to come.
To leave on an especially high and encouraging note, in his column D. Eadward Tree explains how Google is increasingly rewarding those that publish high quality content by directing more search engine results their way. Fortunately, as Eadward Tree puts it, "Google has been sidling over to our part of the room in search of meaningful relationships with those it can trust." Based on Google's leaked Search Quality Rating Guidelines, we can ascertain that the search giant favors webpages with "expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness" and are playing right into the hands of publishers who practice real journalism.
Maybe now we can abandon the notion that the race-to-the-bottom, keyword-stuffing content mills that some publishers started to emulate were ever a worthy competitor. Maybe now we can stand firm that good content is good for readers, good for commerce, and good for publishers. Maybe now we can realize that our brand identity hasn't really changed that much at all.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.