The demise of print magazines has been forecast in the media. Every time a newspaper publisher goes bankrupt, it is a chance to promote this position. But is print really dying or is just the media hype from the technology industry to sell us the latest and best widget? Or is this type of story a way to attract readers by focusing on a negative story angle? Perhaps a little of both.
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It’s a familiar story…..A new innovation gets introduced to great fanfare. Excitement builds, press coverage proliferates, and the warning sounds: get on board now or be left in the dust.
According to zdnet.com – Print media is dead, but lives on in tablets and in eMarketer. Is print Dead? NO, just moving online – in 2010, people spent 9% less time reading newspapers and magazines as compared to 2009, which saw a 12% decrease.
There is no denying the fact that coated paper and newsprint are showing shipment declines. Why is print shrinking? Technology has replaced paper distribution as a more efficient delivery method through less wastage. According to the chart below on circulation trends it is shrinking for some and growing for others. But it is still a $20 billion market in the USA, so it is still big business and it grew by $8 million in 2011. Perhaps it is stale management at the top clinging to old business models as the world changes before them.
Newspapers are now news organizations, not just newspapers, and the readership continues to grow according to this report from Nadbank. People’s appetite for news is still strong, it just being consumed differently now. I still read the news brands that I trust, but now I read them online for free and don’t waste any paper. I also get the news faster as I do not have to wait the next day to get it.
Other forms of print advertising include signage (billboards) and community newspapers, and I do not see them dying off at all as technology is not as efficient as print. Billboard advertising is location-specific so I doubt there is technology on the horizon that can replace this type of medium any time soon. And if there is, it will require major start-up costs to roll this out nationally to the thousands of locations and have ads that stand out.
Current digital boards lack the creative capabilities of print. The flyers in my community newspaper continue to grow as retailers know, that to target homes in a local store marketing program the community newspaper is the best vehicle, not some website. A website cannot guarantee the household delivery that print can. Households look foward to the flyers as they can scan for deals from their local grocery store and comparison shop.
According to reader research on B2B media usage, print ranks #2 after search engines for advertising strategy. Wearing my media buyers hat, a print magazine offers a guaranteed audience through its qualified circulation that cannot be duplicated on a website; the closest vehicles are e-newsletters that happen to be #3 on the list. My best line I use if you want to target lawyers in Ontario is "can a search engine campaign deliver this?" In my opinion, no way, but can a magazine do this? Yes it can. You can choose from Lawyers Weekly, Ontario Reports and Lexpert as your magazine choices for example.
Magazine publishers obviously have to add a digital distribution model to their magazine to attract the next generation of readers that are growing up with a tablet. The key to this is to create value in the eyes of the reader for digital content and not give it away for free whenever possible. Print has the benefit of being scarce and scarcity is the key to creating value. In a world where everything digital must be free, the value of the content goes down and thus the quality of the content, as publishers have no money to create content and that creates a downward spiral that we as an industry must get out of.
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