For magazines, another year of transition
In 2012 their focus continued to shift from print to digital
December 20, 2012
The defining magazine story of 2012, the closure of the print edition of Newsweek, foreshadows what may be the most volatile year for magazines yet.
More titles will shift to online-only, and even those that maintain their print editions will look increasingly to circulation and digital advertising to make up for the steep declines in print ads, which show no signs of slowdown.
News and celebrity magazines look especially vulnerable, as the web threatens to make their format obsolete.
Certainly it’s an alarm that’s been sounded before.
But the demise of Newsweek, one of the best-known brands in magazines and one of the biggest to fall victim to the digital stampede, has emphasized the looming problem like never before.
The industry is in deep flux.
“Although people will always–hopefully–want to read what we now call a magazine, magazines have to stop thinking about themselves in the traditional way and have to start thinking of themselves more as content providers, with the content being distributed on the platform most suitable for the content itself–print, web, tablet, smartphone, etc.,” says Martin S. Walker, chairman at Walker Communications, a print consultancy.
In the coming year, magazines will be focusing more and more on furthering their brands rather than simply selling a print product.
Expect more deals such as the one reached this month between Cosmopolitan and Harlequin. The two are collaborating on a series of erotic digital books, riding the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but in a modern format. Cosmo is already pushing the books as the perfect mobile reading material.
Magazines are revamping their web sites to keep current with social media trends. Glamour, for instance, recently overhauled its site to give it more of a Pinterest feel, with bigger pictures and more emphasis on “sharing” images and articles on social networks.
Interactivity is also a hugely popular trend with the print product. Earlier this year Ladies Home Journal began relying on readers to generate much of its content, giving the magazine more of a blog feel.
For its December issue, Esquire turned every page interactive by using Netpage, an app that allows readers to use their cell phones to take a photo of the page and then interact with the content as they would on a tablet device.
“[Such developments] make magazines more relevant to a digital savvy audience/reader and provides larger audience and more upscale audience for advertisers,” Walker says.
That’s something magazines need right now, because ad revenue is not coming out of its tailspin.
Every major forecaster predicts that spending for the medium will be down next year. Pivotal Research Group predicts a 6.7 percent decline, after a 6.8 percent dip this year.
And ZenithOptimedia predicts a 3.2 percent decrease, after falling 3.4 percent this year.
In the short term digital gains will not offset the print losses in ad spending. Longer term, however, that may be a possibility if magazines begin gaining not only substantial advertiser spending but also circulation revenue from tablets and other online editions.
Tablet adoption is expected to reach 50 percent of the U.S. population by the end of next year.
“Nearly 40.0 percent of tablet owners accessed magazine content on these devices each month, a trend potentially redefining the digital market for publishers,” notes ZenithOptimedia in its year-end forecast.
The road to increased adoption of digital magazines will be bumpy, and Newsweek will not be the only casualty.
Readers predicted in a Media Life poll earlier this year that at least one celebrity title will fold in the coming year, and buyers are watching Time, the only traditional newsweekly still printing, closely for clues to its future.
Men’s titles and women’s service magazines have also been struggling at a time when so much fashion, lifestyle and entertainment information is available on the web.
But Walker thinks that a few categories will continue to thrive in print.
“Magazines devoted to long-form journalism, such as The New Yorker, and fashion and beauty and home furnishing magazines where print provides the best product illustrations” are in the best shape heading into 2013, he says.
Estrella upfront: Spinoffs and summer talent shows
The secrets to advertising on Snapchat
What’s next in the Bill Cosby criminal case
CBS makes a clean sweep of the season
Surprise: ABC surges past NBC on final Monday
Billboard Music Awards tumble on Twitter
Imagine, cable TV brought to you by Hulu
Big trends of the Spanish-language upfronts
Maybe 100 percent viewability isn’t the goal
Expect disruption with new overtime rules
So what’s your take on the fall schedules?
Cold comfort: Oh what an NHL playoffs
Coming, the boom in social media video advertising
- Rachel Mercer becomes digital strategy director at Deutsch
- Becka Walter-Vigorito and Silmo Bonomi join VML
- Krysten de Quesada rises to account director at Pinta
- Kt Thayer becomes creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky
- María Martínez-Guzmán and Gabriela Tristán rise at Univision
- Keith Summa, George Lansbury and Alexis Madrigal rise at Fusion
- Dana Bowen becomes executive editor at Martha Stewart Living
- Dayne Damme becomes marketing director at Entercom
- Madelin Bosakewich becomes VP of sales at IBT Media
- George Grobar rises to COO at Penske Media Corp.
- Jim Shilale becomes global head of supply at Cuebiq
- Michael Azzolino becomes EVP of creative affairs at ITV Studios
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This month’s new media traffic data
This week’s younger viewer ratings
Freelance broadcast planner/buyer available
Assistant media buyer job in Fort Worth
Needed in Louisville: In-house media buyer
Memphis agency seeks a media planner
Needed: Globally conscious sales/marketing rep