Delivering his keynote address at Journée Magazine 2008 yesterday, Mark Edmiston of New York-based AdMedia Partners argued that magazines are better placed than other media to survive the challenges posed by the Internet . “I think magazines will play an enormous influence in the evolving media world," The one-day conference was hosted by Magazines du Québec.
Conventional wisdom has it that young people don’t read, want their information immediately and see magazines as old-fashioned, Edmiston said. But “200 years of history doesn’t fade away just like that.” Fifty years from now, people will still read magazines and the basic model will not be that different from what it is today.
Magazines have an attractive price-value relationship and contain lots of information in a user-friendly package. However, their advantage lies in their ability to gather, organize and distribute data. “Magazine editors are the original Google search engine,” Edmiston said. “Consumers need an editor, a filter from the stuff thrown at them from the Web, and who better than editors?”
The Web gives magazines their best opportunity to strut their stuff. Brands have always been important, Edmiston said, but they’re vital online. On an “unregulated and irresponsible” Web, magazine brands can ensure information is reliable. “Do you want RSS feeds of news from any source or do you want Time or Newsweek to tell you what’s important?”
Traditional mediums will have to define new roles online, Edmiston said. Regularly scheduled TV, for example, is disappearing. As a result more TV will be broadcast on demand over the Internet. Newspapers will likely become more targeted, while radio will become even more fragmented, sinceit can be delivered around the world on the Internet.
As for magazines, Edmiston warned that the worst aphorism to follow in a time of change is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” The old magazine model, where information is delivered weekly, monthly or quarterly, is going. It will be replaced by a “platform agnostic” content model that is driven by consumer needs—readers will be able to access info when and where needed.
Although the Web will be a major medium that could take as much as 50% of media advertising dollars in time, Edmiston belives “the Web and traditional media are complimentary, not mutually exclusive.”
Asked if he’d still get into the magazine industry if he was 20, Edmiston replied: “I’m excited about the prospects. The industry has been slow to move but will be a major player on the Web.”