Masthead Special Reports

(More) Net Results

by Marco Ursi

The diversity of answers we received to questions posed in our first Online Publishing Survey made drawing broad conclusions difficult. This wasn’t especially surprising. A quick browse of magazine-related websites shows that most companies are still experimenting with a variety of business and editorial models on the Web. If nothing else, our survey’s results confirmed this observable fact. We published most of the survey’s findings in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Masthead, but in the emerging grand tradition of Online Extras, we saved a few for the net.

These results are based on 77 responses from online managers representing 301 publication websites. The responses came from 35 consumer, 32 b-to-b, four association, three scholarly and two custom publishing companies that, combines, employ 508 Web staff members. Just over half of these companies are based in the Greater Toronto Area.

These numbers corroborate the fact that most organizations are now taking online publishing seriously. It will be interesting to see whether these numbers will change significantly when we ask the same question two years from now. On his popular blog, American b-to-b consultant Paul Conley recently argued that training courses are a waste of time and money for all involved. “[T]here's no need to teach skills and technology to the journalists who are already part of Web culture,” Conley writes, “because the culture requires participation in skills and technology. Or, to put it another way -- I cannot teach the Web. No one can. Yet all of us who are part of the Web are learning the Web.”

A near-split that’s very likely to change in two years. Online properties are relatively inexpensive to launch while advertisers are increasingly attracted to the Internet. Challenges from online-only publications will be especially prevalent in the b-to-b sector, where the data- and resource-based nature of the content makes the Web a natural medium.

Here the split between b-to-b and consumer publishers shows itself, as those on the trade side realize the Web will be essential for future profits. As the answer to another one of our questions showed, the primary source of income on the Web is banner advertising, so expect online sales efforts to increase  substantially over the next little while.

Not a shocker, and governments have been polling the industry to see if programs should be adjusted to reflect the new realities.

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Most Recent News Comment
Jaded says:
Wow, Torstar really seems to be on a mission to bankrupt one magazine after another....