Scarcity over Scale – When Size Doesn’t Matter

awTwo publishers explain why mass market is not the value proposition that their advertisers are looking for.

“When anyone can buy traffic, what value does the marketer get from that? And what is unique about that audience?”

Breaking Media’s CEO John Lerner asks these pointed questions in a recent interview with Michael Rondon in Folio:. The article aimed to get a grip on the classic publishing dilemma of depth versus width.

“Magazines have always been about reaching specific groups of people. Cultivating a relationship with those individuals through careful content choices and selective audience development has its advantages when that group is valued by advertisers—even if it’s done at the expense of raw size,” Rondon writes.

Lerner agrees, saying their company is happy to sit out the “epic traffic driving arms race” in favor of generating reach that is truly valuable to its customers.

“In B2B vertical media, the audience is finite, so we strive for market penetration rather than reach,” he explains, noting that they currently have a market penetration of 77% for their Above the Law  platform.

He’s not alone in the belief that tighter focus beats mass appeal. Katherine Nicholls, CEO of Niche Media that publishes high-end regional lifestyle magazines, says they are definitely not seeking mass audiences.

“We are focused on reaching the most affluent and active consumers who are either residents of or visitors to the 11 cities we publish in,” she explains, adding that “we view every single copy of our magazine as our currency, and as such, we endeavor to spend it wisely, evaluating our distribution methods on an ongoing basis.”

This makes a lot of sense at a time when audiences are self-selecting like never before. Buying traffic or artificially boosting base rate no longer pays the rent at a time when mass market continues the move to niche audiences.

“Chasing scale or a mass audience will quickly erode the value of our targeted reach,” Nicholls says.