Google, the epitome of the internet ventures that have so disrupted the magazine industry, turns out to have a crush on traditional publishers, a recently leaked report reveals. But publishers' increasingly reckless behavior threatens to dash this odd-couple relationship on the rocks.
We've been using the internet to tell stories for 20 years now, and for nearly as long publishers have also been using the internet to grow revenue by selling ancillary goods: from T-shirts and coffee mugs to niche enthusiast and B2B products. But in the last three to five years, the worlds of content and commerce have combined in ways rarely seen before.
Rick McFarland likes to compare his work at Hearst Corporation's data services to the creation of the Interstate Highway System. Before the Interstate System, it was a bumpy ride from coast to coast, fraught with dead-ends, detours, and sluggish speeds. Improving the nation's roads had been a long-standing ideal, but it really wasn't until President Eisenhower championed the military and economic value of a robust interstate highway that funding was put in place and action was taken.
Like many editors, I complain that I don't get out of the office much and I don't have enough time to write. Both gripes explain why I'm only now writing about the weeklong Yale Publishing Course held back in July. But luckily a good education isn't like a banana. It doesn't spoil. And now with a bit of hindsight I'll share what really sank in with me from the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media course.
The Bloomberg Brief newsletter group was launched with a very simple goal: to make clients' lives easier. They wanted summary news, analysis, and data to stay informed when away from their Bloomberg Terminal. No passwords, no websites. Just something simple.
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 recent years, publishers have repurposed their content into new formats (ebooks, TV, streaming video, podcasts), launched thought-leader conferences and enthusiast events, and developed direct-to-consumer or affiliate ecommerce platforms. These nontraditional ventures have become nearly as important to publishers as the ad sales and subscription revenue they once relied on almost exclusively.
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.
I think the magazine business, now called by some the magazine media business, has a branding problem. Is defining the brand of the magazine industry even possible in this day and age given we are no longer beholden to a single deliverable substrate and deliver our product in hundreds of ways? Are we branding ourselves as trusted information providers? If so, what distinguishes us from a billion web sites?