For magazines, moving beyond print and digital
In 2013, the industry pushed on integrating online and offline
December 20, 2013
In 2013, magazines increase the integration between digital and print content, rolling out tablet and smartphone editions and adding online elements into print stories.
In 2014, the movement toward the magazine as an experience, rather than simply an online and print publication, will take further flight.
Magazines will emphasize the dynamic relationship between their brand and their readers, utilizing not just print and video but also reaching beyond those things to actual real-life events in their area of expertise, such as cooking classes, branded cruises or running clinics.
The goal is to become less of a static entity, a destination, as magazines have traditionally been, and more of an experience, or set of potential experiences, a virtual buddy in all things related to the magazine subject.
“Magazine brands will continue to optimize their content for various platforms and provide what works best for both the consumer and the advertiser across each device,” says Alan Jurmain, media director at Avrett Free Ginsberg.
“Customized content by consumer segments will also grow in an effort to maintain relevance and tap into the ‘personal intimacy’ these brands have with their readers.”
Magazines have been experimenting with these ideas over the past year, with varying degrees of success. All the ideas are aimed at integrating magazines into everyday life.
Runner’s World, for instance, now hosts a three-race weekend in October where the magazine’s editors participate in Q&A sessions and running clinics to help readers to a personal best.
Meredith spun a magazine off of a web site, Allrecipes.com, where its readers share their favorite recipes and plan out their weekly menus.
And Wired’s digital edition now allows readers to buy products they see in the e-magazine by simply touching the screen.
The new ideas come at a time of financial struggle for magazines, a period that’s extended for years now.
Ad pages will once again finish this year down, and most forecasters are calling for another 2 percent decline in magazine ad revenue in 2014.
There’s also a great deal of turmoil in the industry. Time Inc. is about to be spun off from Time Warner, Forbes is up for sale, and titles continue to cut their print presence.
That has sparked the change in the way magazines sell themselves to advertisers.
“Multi-media ad programs will happen by design rather than by default. In recent years, it’s been an either-or option for advertisers. Going forward, synching print and digital efforts will magnify the advertisers’ connection to both the consumer and the media brand,” Jurmain says.
While print circulation continues to decline, digital is on the rise. The number of digital magazines downloaded per week has increased to 2 million, up from 300,000 at this time two years ago, according to Adobe.
Still, the majority of magazine reading takes place with print. And so that melding of print, digital and experiential advertising will be the key to magazines’ survival in an increasingly digital-centric world.
“Integration of product and editorial will continue to be desirable, across all brand formats,” Jurmain says.
“Retail and consumer relationship capabilities inherent in digital will add a dimension for magazines that will allow for additional sources of advertiser value and publishing revenue.”
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