Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Newspapers and Magazines -- what to do about the web?

PaidContent has a report on a gloomy review of the newspaper and magazine industry's reaction to the web. There is also a link to the International Herald Tribune's report on the Magazine 2.0 Conference -- a satelite event to CEBIT.

It is quite extraordinary that some publishers are developing a digital strategy just because they feel the need to respond to advertiser's expectations.

"We are making a lot of sales online, but over all we are still making a loss," said Andreas Wiele, the president of [Axel Springer Verlag]'s magazines and international businesses, which are based in Berlin. "But we basically had no choice. Our advertisers are demanding an Internet strategy and we have to have one."
The prior question has to be: Can the publishers develop digital editions which serve their readers in a convincing fashion online? If the readers will not read the publication online the advertisers will properly have no interest in advertising in an online magazine or newspaper.

Hachette has been running digital trials in France which it will expand to the UK. Hachette has put 200 magazines into the trial and has had uptake from 20,000 consumers (the trial has been running since August).
Hachette sells access to digital facsimiles of four magazines for just €9.90, or about $13, a month. Consumers download the magazines, which are enhanced with embedded audio and video, and read them off line. They can switch the four titles each month and there is no yearly commitment.
I wonder whether it is really attractive to tell subscribers that there is 'no yearly commitment' and they may switch their choice each month? Interesting also, that they should have chosen 'four' as the proper number for a multi-title offer. However, at least Hachette is trying. Quite a few publishers appear to have given up. PaidContent concludes: 'the industry will wait for the electronics industry to save it by developing a hand-held newspaper and magazine reader.' PaidContent is not counting on this to happen in the medium term. Tough times ahead? Or it could be time to try a digital edition which is a simple web application?

2 comments:

miles said...

I hope that magazines prosper offline and online.

Unfortunately I just can't see it happening. At least I can't see the senior management teams of the large publishers adapting quickly enough to enable their companies to prosper online.

It is interesting that Magicalia, an internet company focused on creating specialist consumer websites, has just announced the acquisition of its 11th print magazine, Good Woodworking.

What that says to me is online publishers understand the value of specialist content and how to generate revenue from it. Offline publishers don't.

I predict more and more print magazines will disappear or be bought by online publishers.

It doesn't have to be this way.

The traditional publishing companies have everything they need to prosper online, accept the knowledge of how to do it.

Adam Hodgkin said...

Interesting comments. Possibly a bit gloomy but I agree that the large magazine publishers are a trifle set in their ways (more sticky toffee pudding than trifle in most cases). One thing that may yet convince them that change could work in their favour on the web, would be to see another type of media company (film, or music maybe?) make a success of selling subscriptions through the web. Once the subscription-for-content idea catches on with web users, magazine companies are in a good position to exploit digital subs.....Upside there?