Niche and Special Interest Titles Continue to Lead in Growth

Well, the data may be a little fuzzy, but the message is good. According to Association of Magazine Media and their Magazine Media 360 report for April, several magazine titles are seeing some nice growth.

“In the enthusiast and niche interest categories especially, some print and print-like experiences are not only hanging on, but growing,” writes Steve Smith in Min.


We should note that when the MPA rolled out their MPA 360 engagement metrics in 2014, there was quite a lot of talk about what the data really means. For some, including BoSacks, it was all a bit silly to roll up digital and print readership into one number – hence the fuzzy data.

“As I read the most recent chart derived from the 360⁰ numbers there was not a single negative number of followers for any magazine, nor was there a difference in the percent of Differential in Followers from September to October,” Bo Sacks said at the time.  “So, Bravo to all! Web followers have not gone down in a month and in some cases they have grown considerably. According to the report, there are now mostly positive numbers for the magazine industry.”

Bo Sacks kindly reminded us then that, in a marketplace where the bulk of a publisher’s revenue still comes from print, we really ought not to be celebrating just because of social engagement (which does not pay the bills). It was a valid point then and remains so today.

Still, one thing we can take away from this data is that special interest and niche categories continue to be a strong and growing segment of the magazine landscape. It’s also interesting to note that of the seven titles featured in the article – Autoweek, Backpacker, Golf Digest, Popular Science, Smithsonian, Traditional Home, and Travel + Leisure – many of these have been actively working to strategically engage more readers in creative ways.

Smithsonian, for example, has been using social media to full advantage, getting tons of mileage out of their yearly photo contest. Backpacker maintains that it’s their strong print platform that is key for their ongoing growth, while Popular Science has been working hard to reach the scientifically curious. Travel + Leisure made news for revamping their digital presence to more closely emulate the curated experience that print readers crave.

It’s not surprising that the titles that are making news for strategically reevaluating their editorial strategy and market position to better appeal to their audience are the ones showing good growth. We’d be more surprised if they weren’t.

Two years ago we saw evidence of a definite trend away from the mass market and toward niche; this new data seems to prove that the swing continues in this golden age for magazines.