Publishing in 2019 — Fueling the Plane in Mid-air

Refueling in mid-air – that is the analogy Julia Raphaely, CEO of Associated Media Publishing in South Africa, gives to the evolution of publishing since the digital disruption.

“The magazine industry has been totally disrupted by technology,” Raphaely says in a new report from UPM and FIPP. “For many publishers, it’s been like fuelling the play while flying at full speed.”

It’s not easy – and it takes nerves of steel. Yet the voices of doom in our industry have fallen out of favor, as publishers evolve and embrace new models of success.

“Despite the emergence of digital channels, which have created the opportunity to communicate with audiences in an instant – wherever they are in the world at the simple touch of a button – print publishing has continued to thrive,” notes the executive summary of the report. “In fact, in the US, the top 25 print magazines reach more adults and teens than the top 25 prime time shows. While in the UK, in 2017, 24.6 million UK adults were reading news brands daily, and 36 million were reading magazines monthly.”

The question is clearly not “print or digital,” but “what role does print play in the mix of print, digital and experiential,” as the report notes. The creators of the report include case studies that clearly demonstrate print’s continued impact.

“Print is heavily edited and curated and it’s like an event that happens once a month … it’s a lean-back experience that I think gives a consumer a break from the intensity of the digital world. And I think increasingly that people are going to look for that.” — Hearst Magazines’ President Troy Young. 

Rob Munro-Hall of Bauer Media believes the audience will always be there for a well-crafted product.

“With many of our bigger products, like Take a Break, there are other revenue streams outside of the print magazine that are really complementary,” Bauer notes. “I call that our 360 model, where we have a print brand in the middle of it with lots of satellite and brand extension products that sit all around it and do lots of different things.”

“A large part of our business is still powered by big, weekly publications,” Bauer adds.

While it might be expected for a brand that began in print to say that, Bauer sees a broader acceptance of the reverse publishing model, where publishers take their digital-first content and curate it to create print products.

“In fact, aside from simply being a shift in process to digital-first, some traditional digital-first brands have gone as far as to launch a new print offering for a specific audience, filling that print product with repurposed content originally created for digital channels,” the report notes, citing examples like Net-a-Porter, Allrecipes and Facebook

“Our automotive title Parkers is a great example,” Bauer says. “It is a well-known consumer website – the most visited UK site for consumers looking for information about cars. At the heart of that business is pricing information, car specifications and data,” the report explains.  “That information is now taken and published in a monthly magazine. That has created a very symbiotic relationship between the website and the print magazine.”

These examples offer great insights into why print is still such a solid force in the audience ecosystem. Grab your copy and dive in; it’s a worthwhile read for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of modern publishing strategy.