Around here we love introducing you to new titles. And lately, some of these titles are coming from unexpected places … like online dating app Bumble’s new print magazine. Or the magazine launched by Netflix to go after the Hollywood awards industry.
These new digital-to-print titles aren’t really such strange bedfellows as it might seem at first glance. Print – both as brand journalism and as news media – is the new old darling, as audiences long for a tangible experience in their digital days.
“Imagine the novel idea of being able to read the news without a pop-up ad or a screen notification for a new email or a tweet from the White House,” muses Sara Jerde in AdWeek. “As some magazines have gone digital-only, other big publishers and brands have reversed course and leaned deeper into the ultimate lean-back experience, print, with whole new publications.”
“Recently, The Economist relaunched a lifestyle magazine,” Jerde continues. “Culture Trip, an international media organization, launched a publication about travel. Meredith created a new title centered around pet care. As audiences digest more news on a screen (93% of Americans say they get at least some news online, according to the Pew Research Center), some magazines are investing more into the print product as a way to cut through the digital noise and reach niche audiences.”
Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni agrees, telling Jerde that “virtual is not enough” for modern audiences. The problem, he believes, isn’t the audience – we love to read in a “clutter-free experience.” The problem is that publishers have trained their readers to expect that content should be free, after years of giving away their best assets.
“But now,” Jerde continues, “with subscribers becoming more accustomed to paying for the news (and publications are less reliant on advertising dollars), publishers and brands are realizing that now is as good of a time as any to experiment as the business model changes.”
The evidence for this exists in all verticals, from the wild success of Magnolia Journal to small niche titles with passionate – and paying – followings. In all, 134 new titles launched in 2017 alone, Jerde explains, and that trend continues.
“Most recently, Meredith launched Happy Paws, a magazine centered around pet care,” Jerde writes. “Based on its experiences introducing the other titles, Meredith believes it can carve out a new publication that caters to readers’ specific passion points.”
It’s truly a golden time for niche lifestyle titles. Digital fatigue is a real phenomenon, and so many of us are choosing to back away from our rabid digital consumption. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to read or stay informed, or be entertained.
And for digital-first brands, publishing in print is like getting your first pair of long pants. “It’s sort of like print is becoming the validation of your brand,” Husni said.
Twenty years ago we all looked at digital as proof of a brand’s social relevancy. “Do you have a website” was the first question you asked when wanting to learn more about a brand. As digital became ubiquitous, print has regained its status as the mark of a “real” brand.