Publishing Executive February 2014
With several prominent web sites launching magazines, Newsweek starting to rise from the ashes, and many titles seeing increased ad pages, 2013 was the year print forgot to die. It was the year our industry seemed to reach consensus that, for many years to come, we will derive much of our profit from putting ink on paper.
If you're the glass-half-full type, you might take comfort in what appears to be an upward trend where the internet is actually starting to reward engaging, quality content.
The fact is, the marketer's pizza isn't getting any bigger, it's just getting sliced more ways. Today, that same pizza is being sliced into insanely smaller and smaller pieces that now include search engine marketing, social media, display advertising, email marketing, native advertising, and content marketing (to name just a few.)
The word "community" is used a lot in the magazine business these days. Publishers strive to generate comments on their web articles, stalk social media for followers, and worry over attendance numbers for events and webinars. These efforts are well intentioned, as active communities mean healthy subscription numbers and fertile advertising grounds.
Publishers have long been adept at gathering information about readers and audiences in the interest of producing better content and more effective advertising. But these processes were a lot more simplistic "back in the day" of print-centric magazines.
The theme running throughout this issue of Publishing Executive is reader engagement. Engagement strategies take many forms. Providing a lean back experience is one type. Sometimes engagement is increased through the use of hard evidence, as is reported in the "Data-Driven Publishing" feature or the Tech Talk article featuring analytics software "Chartbeat."
What unites good business and good editorial is often a keen awareness of emerging trends. And if early interest is any indication, Modern Farmer founder Ann Marie Gardner has locked in on a global trend that's proving to be a rich ground for growing a multifaceted content platform.
Nearly every month new research rolls in reporting on the rapid rise of mobile web traffic. According to web analytics firm StatCounter, as of November 2013 mobile internet usage increased 51.6% from a year ago.
From my perspective, rate base is a convoluted tool designed to produce distorted circulation figures. Yes, auditing is an attempt to verify with some precision and prove to the advertisers that a certain number of people may have picked up and read your magazine. But imbedded in this arcane system is a potential for trickery and a temptation to abuse the well-meaning audit results to achieve what amounts to some meaningless readership number.
There has been plenty of press lately about online properties going print. It’s hard not to be drawn into these stories and see them as silver linings after a year of “print is dead” hysteria. However, these launches, though encouraging, are less a bellwether for the health of the publishing industry and more of a reminder of what makes magazines valuable to begin with.