One of our recent posts took issue with Bill Mickey’s assessment of print as a short-term bet. His take was that print has largely been relegated to legacy status, and any investment in that channel will provide diminishing returns over the long term.
With the number of publishers that are now investing (or reinvesting, as is the case with Newsweek) in print magazines, it would appear publishing world in general does not take that view.
In his next post, he seems to soften his tack and talk about ways to manage print profitably. Maybe he’s seeing that, while the traditional high circulation model subsidized solely by advertising is going away, a premium content approach based on a good mix of ad revenue and subscriptions is being embraced by the industry.
Mickey quotes AIM COO Andrew Clurman, who says that subscription and ad revenues are positive these days.
“We haven’t seen any discernible fall-off in subscription interest and renewals or the core metrics around reader engagement and satisfaction,” said Clurman. “And for the overall print mix, we have been flat to slightly up in pages on a global basis.”
Even when quoting IDG CEO Matt Yorke, the value of print in both revenue and intangible strategic value was cited. This in spite of the fact that IDG publishes tech-heavy publications like ComputerWorld, Infoworld and CIO, all of which we can assume attract a digital-savvy audience. Even to these folks, print has lasting value and merits a solid place in the business model.
To be sure, ad pages in both B-to-B and consumer publications dropped since 2008, both down between 34-47% according to MPA/PIB figures. That’s a reality that necessitates a change in how we manage our print vehicles, but certainly not enough of a drop to cut them off at the knees.
In fact, Clurman at AIM says his company is upping their investment in print.
“Clurman says the company is putting about 25 percent more capital towards traditional consumer marketing efforts-direct mail, email marketing and other promotions. But there needs to be a payoff on the other side. The investment isn’t arbitrary or done simply to prop up print,” writes Mickey.
Companies like AIM do not make decisions based on emotions and nostalgia, something Mickey implies might be happening among some in the industry.
When we see investments in print, we know the brand sees the solid value and strategic benefit of reaching out and engaging on this platform. Print is in the mix to stay.