A Critique Of Yahoo's Digital Magazine Strategy
Small Business Trends writer Shawn Hessinger and I have a completely different view of the news that Yahoo was starting its own digital magazine empire. While I gather Hessinger saw Yahoo's move to capture an audience with general information that they curated themselves with luscious pictures and snappy writing as bad, I see it as a leap forward for a cluttered mess of a media company. As far as I can tell, these Yahoo magazines are actually just well-designed websites (much closer to magazines than websites in look and feel, however). That's good. And, as for Hessinger's concern that Yahoo will have to worry about appealing to an audience, Yahoo has one of the biggest general audiences around, an audience that has grown from 676 million in 2012 to over 800 million in September 2013. (See more stats here.)
They must be doing something right. As someone who sometimes advises hopefuls who do not have an audience and are starting from scratch, I can tell you that nothing is more comforting than knowing you've got to come up with content for a portion of 800 million users.
Mayer says these digital magazines will bring users new ways to consume Yahoo's content. I say it's about time. Consumers want content that is a pleasure to read. They want curation. They want, in short, digital magazines, whether they are on separate platforms or on a website. And as a non-cooking, happy-eating West Coaster, I can tell you Yahoo hit the mark with these apple cider donuts.
My audience marketing self has one bone to pick with Yahoo FOOD: They did not ask me to identify myself, or identify with the Yahoo FOOD brand in any way. Will I remember to come back to the "magazine?" Time will tell.
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.