Rising Up: 2017 Being Hailed as the Year of the Magazine

From industry insiders to marketing gurus, the talk is all about how magazines could rule this year. We can’t like this enough.

This year, we’re expecting a whole lot of love for indie titles, and the print magazine industry in general. We also expect brand publishing to be bigger than ever, with custom print magazines featuring prominently in content strategies.

We might be accused of wishful thinking (after all, printing magazines is what we do), but industry stats and marketing gurus continue to back us up on this.

According to the MPA, 2016 was a really good year for magazines. They note “the largest increase in print and digital audience since the Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report began over two years ago. The print and digital audience, which is measured and reported by GfK MRI, grew 5.5% compared to the previous year.”

Their numbers show that overall, 71% of the brands they track were up in print and digital compared to a year ago.

What’s behind the upward movement? According to Sarah Hennessy of UK media agency MEC, it’s innovation and an audience-first approach.

“Clearly, there are challenges and the prospect of further consolidation could mean uncertainty,” Hennessy writes in Campaign. “However, the sector has a sense of buoyancy as magazine publishers are looking at innovative ways to engage their audiences, leading to a deeper brand experience.”

“One area that is giving magazines a boost is a focus on specialism,” Hennessy continues. This echoes what we’ve been reporting about the strength of the indie market and the continuing move from mass market to niche for publishers.

Hennessy recommends that publishers do a better job of proving demand across channels to support publishing decisions. This will help them close weaker titles and “breathe greater life into those that remain.”

While all this supports the reality of the current renaissance of the magazine, a cautionary note is being sounded from some quarters.

Publishers who are considering shuttering their print editions and moving entirely to print might want to rethink that. 

The move to an entirely digital platform spells death for magazine brands, according to Samir Husni.

“A magazine that says it is folding its print edition and moving to pure digital is no longer a magazine and chances are it will not only be gone from sight but also from mind. If a magazine can’t survive in print, none of its magazine media will survive. It’s easier to let the magazine go rest in peace than placing it on digital-life support,” Husni wrote earlier this year.

Some media brands, in the quest to capture digital viewership, have moved to a bite-size content strategy. That works great online, but basically sinks any hopes of a solid print strategy.

As the magazine audience grows, and readers continuing to love print, media brands need to find that right balance between short content that pulls readers to the brand, and long-form content that engaged the print read.

UPDATE 02/20/17:

It was recently asked: When Magazine Media is compared with Social Media…”So how does one reconcile these vastly divergent narratives?” given Social Media is “…more than twice the size of the magazine industry and about five times larger than the newspaper industry.”

My answer? The essence of Magazine Media today is premium content from premium brands for a premium audience. https://freeportpress.com/magazine-media-in-a-nutshell-its-premium/