7. What makes a magazine successful? How can some magazines thrive and new ones be created despite the rapid decline in print advertising revenue? What differentiates those that are thriving and those that are struggling? What exactly is a magazine, and what makes the value of a magazine unique, for readers and for advertisers? Will magazines exist 10 or 20 years in the future? If so, how will they be different than they are today?
Is it weird that in the middle of print dying, Politico created a successful magazine? How did that happen?
by Felix Gillette, Bloomberg Businessweek
October 30, 2013
Call it Politico Slow.
On Wednesday morning, Politico announced details of its upcoming bimonthly magazine. …
Why is the political news organization known for obsessively trying to win the morning now trying to … win the month? Or win every two months?
Last year, former Politico media reporter Michael Calderone noted in a lengthy piece for the Huffington Post that traffic at Politico’s flagship operation appeared to have plateaued, suggesting that in the years ahead the news organization would have to adopt new strategies to keep expanding the brand’s audience:
…With the market for minute-by-minute, insider political coverage perhaps nearing a saturation point, Politico is now making a big bet on a monthly magazine. Thestrategy may reflect a new and growing awareness in media companies of what media theorists such as professor Anita Elberse of the Harvard Business School call a “blockbuster strategy.”
The counterintuitive idea is that in today’s fragmented marketplace, media and entertainment companies (ranging from book publishers to movie studios, to music labels) tend to make more money over time by concentrating their budgets on a smaller number of expensively produced, heavily marketed items aimed at mass audiences (aka blockbusters) than by producing a larger number of cheaper ones aimed at narrow niches.
The new magazine will essentially serve as Politico’s studio for political blockbusters.
It will also give them a new product to sell advertisers. In a challenging media environment, savvy publishers such as Meredith, in Des Moines, Ia., have quietly been raking in money in recent years by printing so-called bookazines (see, for instance, Chicken Dinners) — enormous, glossy magazines with long expiration dates that can live on a newsstand, or a coffee table, or (in the case of Politico Magazine) a congressional staffer’s desk for months without feeling dated. For certain brand advertisers, the slow paceof the bookazine offers an appealing comparative advantage vs. the frenzied pace of the Web.
Politico is betting that money’s to be made in going big and going slow.
By Eugene Soltes and Sara Hess, Harvard Business Review
May 14, 2013
Since the print media revenue model, based primarily upon the sale of advertising space, began to fall apart in the mid-1990s, [Monocle founder Tyler] Brûlé watched theoverall quality of magazines and newspapers deteriorate along with revenues. He believed one of the biggest misconceptions in the world of print media was the idea that cutting costs would save the business. The notion that consumers would pay the same price, or more for that matter, for a magazine with less editorial content, less international coverage, and fewer pages overall confounded Brûlé. He believed the magazine of the future would have to take a counter approach by investing heavily in costly, high-quality international journalism for which readers would be willing to pay a premium. …
With the funding in place, Brûlé stayed true to his intentions and created Monocle, a magazine that did not fit well into any of the predefined magazine categories — news, business, sports, fashion. Monocle’s cover described it as “a briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design” (Exhibit 1). …
Monocle magazine was organized into sections A through E, representing current affairs, business, culture, design, and edits, respectively. This layout encouraged readers to exercise their minds at the beginning by absorbing political and business news, and then relax more as they worked toward the back of the magazine. …
International bureaus and correspondents were not cheap, but neither were Monocle’s five different paper stocks bound into the magazine’s sturdy black spine. Themagazine’s design reflected Brûlé’s belief that readers would pay more for quality content and presentation. The firm invested heavily in the production of Monocle …
The Monocle subscription model was an exception in the world of print news publications. While most major newspapers and magazines watched their subscriber base drop precipitously, Monocle experienced substantial growth, from 7,000 subscribers in 2008 to over 16,000 by July 2010. …
Brûlé believed the Monocle subscription model worked because people were willing to pay “to belong to something that said something about them;” it was something more than signing up to receive a monthly publication. Like paying for access to an airport lounge, distribution director Kirsty Mulhern explained, “you pay a premium to be in theclub.”
A sense of belonging, similar to that experienced by readers, was equally cultivated and prized among Monocle’s advertisers. However, unlike readers, who could become a “member of the club” by simply subscribing to the publication, advertisers were required to go through a more selective process before being informally admitted to Monocle’s circle of friends and associates.
The State of the News Media 2013
Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism
Amid the broad decline of the magazine industry in recent years, news magazines have been among the hardest hit. That trend continued in 2012 for the six publications analyzed by the Pew Research Center, Time and Newsweek, as well as four smaller niche publications — The Economist, The Atlantic, The Week and The New Yorker. …
Newsweek put out its last print issue on December 31, 2012, and moved to an all-digital format. …
Time is now the last of the mass-market general interest news weeklies to survive in print form. … But Time’s 2012 numbers demonstrate considerable difficulty as well. Time was the only one of the six news magazines to see all three audience measures — newsstand sales, number of subscriptions and total circulation — decline in 2012.