For several years, the future of print magazines looked to be in doubt, thanks to the rise of the internet. However, with the recent rebirth of Newsweek, which originally closed in 2012 due to falling readership and advertising revenue, it appears that publishers are reconsidering their print offering for the digital age.
A key consideration for publishers is the multichannel experience. As readers consume content in increasingly diverse ways, some industry figures have observed that print publications becoming purely digital is not a successful model – publishing expert Thad McIlroy said: ‘few magazine publishers could withstand the loss of ad revenue if they discontinued their print versions’1. However, as websites and online magazines are beginning to publish in print, offering content both online and offline is proving to be vital for many publishers.
While falling advertising revenue was once a fear for print publications, digital advertising, on the whole, has not reached the same level as advertising in print, which gives print an advantage over digital. Many publishers are considering the kind of advertising they are attracting – after all, a magazine’s advertising should be as carefully targeted as the rest of its content.
Content is king
Any publication should bear its target audience in mind when thinking about content and many successful publishers are providing different (but often complementary) content for different platforms, such as long form pieces for their print offerings and shorter, shareable and interactive content for their online versions. Moreover, content may have to be skewed to different demographics depending on the platform, whether that’s print, desktop, tablet or smartphone. But, most importantly of all, the content needs to be high-quality and relevant to the reader – a good example of this is The Economist2, which has weathered the ‘digital’ storm because of its focus on international and political issues, which are very much relevant in this ‘globalisation’ era.
“Most importantly of all, the content needs to be high-quality and relevant to the reader…”
Along with adjusting their advertising models, print publishers are increasingly looking at their subscription model as a way of keeping publications financially viable. Etienne Uzac, chief executive of IBT Media, which owns the rejuvenated Newsweek, claims that up to 90% of the print edition’s income will come from its new premium subscription base (which was possible as the magazine is starting again from the ground up3; Many other publications are looking towards a more premium subscription offer to offset costs. But again, the quality of the content is vital if the reader is to make a commitment to a subscription.
A significant cost for print publications is the fulfilment process – after all, magazines need to reach suppliers and subscribers. Publishers are beginning to look at more cost-efficient methods of delivery and fulfilment, including outsourcing.
The future is bright
According to Deloitte’s 2013 Media Consumer Survey4, 75% of UK consumers still prefer print editions over online and other versions of their favourite magazines. Print media offers a tangible product for readers, who are looking for quality content that is value for money. The future is bright for print publishers, but they have many aspects of their business model to consider if they are to remain successful in the digital era.