We don’t usually find much to argue with in Folio, but a recent post from Bill Mickey gets our collective Irish up. According to Mickey, print’s been sidelined by digital as a revenue source, and its usefulness is relegated to legacy status.
“Print these days is a medium of diminishing returns. There are pockets of brands where print revenues are increasing, but physical magazines are largely now kept around as a sometimes-important part of an integrated buy.”
If this is true, why are so many digital publishers launching print magazines and talking about them as serious revenue streams? And why are “legacy” print models like Newsweek, which tried and failed to make money in digital form, now coming back to print?
Mickey concedes there is value in print, but their role has changed to loss leaders and one-offs.
He says, “…what traditional publishers know all too well is that print still has value. Not necessarily sentimental value, because that’s just dangerous these days, but brand equity. Digital-only content companies may scoff at that notion, happy to be free of that albatross around their necks, but a traditional publisher will be the first to tell you that a legacy brand can indeed provide a new event or digital product launch a much-needed push.”
“The challenge then becomes quantifying that value. Regardless, the role print magazines are playing is becoming much more specialized: loss leaders for brand offshoots into digital and live events, TV and other platforms; highly compressed circulation to a niche, but perhaps higher value audience; themed issue one-offs that are currently propping up the newsstand business.”
What Mickey perhaps misses is the shifting revenue models as publishers are creating revenue streams with these tightly-circulated, high-value niche markets.
Smart publishers have already recognized the diminishing returns of the former high-circulation model, and have corrected for the new realities. They’ve recognized where print has tremendous impact, and adjusted accordingly.
No hard feelings, Mickey, but we have to disagree this time.