Readers: Magazines have a future beyond print
Buyers and planners believe that the medium can thrive
June 28, 2013
Magazines have faced a dilemma since the advent of the internet: Embrace a medium that threatens their very existence, or try to persuade people that print was still king even when that was clearly not the case.
After a few rocky years, most publications have come to position themselves as brands delivered across a range of media, print and digital. And while they’re a little late on the transition, media buyers and planners applaud that decision.
They believe that magazines do have a future beyond print and that publishers should be putting every resource they have into creating that future.
That’s according to a recent Media Life survey on the future of magazines.
The survey asked readers whether they bought the magazines-as-brands argument and whether magazine brands were the wave of the future.
The largest share of readers, 52 percent, said that they did buy that argument and that magazines are wise to build out their identities beyond print.
Only 6 percent of readers disagreed with the argument. The rest were unsure.
“While I do think pushing for an integrated product is a desperate plea to stop the bleeding of ad spend, I do think it’s important for advertisers to look at the sum of the parts,” wrote one reader.
“We can extend our reach by considering both print and digital tactics, especially since there is still volume to be had with print today.”
Wrote another, “Think that the printed magazine is still loved. But people have to think of magazine companies as content and people now get this content in different ways.”
Media Life asked readers to explain in their own words the biggest challenges facing the magazine industry right now.
Readers gave a number of thoughtful, interesting responses.
“It’s still a great showcase for visual creative with the ability to reach a super niche audience,” wrote one reader. “The challenge is competing against the low CPMs of other media and ability to track, which is better done in digital.”
“They need realize that the ad driven model is history. They need to make money off circ, which means significantly reducing rate bases,” wrote another.
“Right now any of the smaller publishers are either unwilling or unable to invest heavily in the new technology. They don’t have the capital and they’re waiting to see where the trends will be, but in general by the time they figure it out it will be too late for many of them,” wrote another.
“To ensure the future of their titles, publishers must make their brands (not magazines, but brands) nimble, multi-faceted and fully integrated,” wrote yet another.
Asked which magazine category shows the most promise in the digital age, 22 percent of readers chose fashion, followed by 12 percent apiece for business and shelter titles.
But readers have very little faith in the future of newsweeklies, where Time is the only traditional Big Three title still publishing weekly in print.
Asked which magazine category is most troubled in the digital age, an overwhelming 72 percent picked newsweeklies. Celebrity titles were a very distant second at 10 percent.
The future is not looking good for one newsweekly in particular, Newsweek, which was put on the block earlier this year, just months after transitioning to digital only.
Media Life asked what the future of Newsweek will be, and 53 percent picked this answer: “There is no future.” Thirty-six percent predicted the title will find a buyer but won’t make a turnaround, and 11 percent said it has a bright future.
Finally, Media Life invited readers to write in their choices for which magazines have done the best job selling their digital product.
People and The Atlantic received the most votes, and publishers Condé Nast and Time Inc. also received a lot of mentions.
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