Wednesday, January 09, 2013
2012 Year in Review - Is your magazine in the digital spin cycle?
As I reflect on the year gone by, it gives me a chance to decipher all the market turbulence publishers had to deal with in 2012. My latest concern is the frustration caused by all of the new technologies publishers have to sort through.

As I start another chapter in my career, I am working on media strategies from an ad agency perspective. This allows me to see the gap between  advertiser needs and the emerging digital technologies publishers are using. I think some publishers lost sight of what advertisers want and got sucked up into the digital tornado.

Magazine publishers are being pulled in several directions and need to focus on key areas. Don't get distracted by the latest technology hype of the next great thing that you gotta have.

 

Here's a digital spin cycle priority list. Focus on these key areas in the order listed.

1. Websites – The anchor of the digital strategy has to be the website. Web browsing is still the number one way people will engage with your brand online. What makes a good website? With HTML 5, sites are adopting a tile grid design framework. Cross-platform is the key as the site needs to work on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones…a tall order for a publisher with a modest budget.

2. Email Newsletters – Compared to other forms of online advertising, email offers the best targeting. It is also opt-in, so you have proof of delivery for advertisers. Email newsletters are the No. 1 driver of high-quality traffic to your website. The challenge is to create enough content.

3. Digital Editions – Digital editions work and they save trees. In the B2B space where the magazine is controlled, the digital edition, if done properly (designed for the screen), can expand readership and save lots of money in printing and distribution costs. For B2C titles, it seems print is still favoured by readers.

4. Paid Content – For consumer magazines, getting people to pay for digital content can be done, but expect the trickle effect. A magazine app is a new paid distribution channel, but don't go crazy. For B2B magazines it is a waste of time, but some publishers have ventured into the market research field which has high value content.

5. Magazine Apps – There will be circulation benefits, but manage your expectations and expect the trickle effect for new magazine subscribers unless you are No. 1 or No. 2 in your space. You can’t sell an ad sponsorship until you reach a circulation milestone that will attract advertisers.

6. Social Media – It does not generate enough ROI as there is no established model to sell advertising around it, but it is a good push strategy to drive traffic to a website. Don’t waste a lot of time on this, it is all market hype.

7. SEO – Traffic from SEO has no advertising value. In most cases, it is an international skewed audience. Also, there is rigging of rankings by Google, in my opinion. My review of the Google Nexus Tablet had 13,000 hits in the first week it was posted and was ranked No. 1 for product reviews, but in the second week it disappeared from all the rankings, so I do not trust SEO results as I feel they are manipulated.

Is all this effort in expanding into the digital realm worth it? According to Adobe's October 2012 "Click Here: The State of Online Advertising" report (PDF download link), online advertising is not as effective as traditional advertising on TV, radio and print. Online is even seen as creepy by some; no other media can lay claim to that. As a media buyer, this will affect the media mix in an integrated campaign.

Traditional media is best for marketing and advertising. Click to view large
 Traditional media best for marketing and advertising. Click to view large

 Consumers pay more attention to speed limits than ads. Click to view large

So perhaps the technologists have it all wrong, as the latest research is telling us that traditional advertising is going to make a comeback in 2013. Hooray for the magazine industry.
- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners online publishing, ad sales and acquisition/selling brokerage services. His media services also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He also moonlights as a pro goalie as a "rent a goalie" at mypuck.com.
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