The Magazine is Dead: Long Live the Magazine!

The-Wired-magazine-story--001From Mr. Magazine’s mouth to your ears: the “death of print club” has closed up shop.

“Every major media company in the United States has launched at least one new magazine (Time Inc. is the only exception, but has been publishing at least 150 book-a-zines a year,” he notes in this compilation article by Tony Silber in Folio:.

A quick look at some of the industry news – programmatic advertising out of control; mobile advertising up; ad blocking at an all-time high; and FB and Google eating up ad budgets with abandon – and it might seem impossible that magazines could be surviving the digital disruption, let alone be thriving.

Impossible? Not at all, according to several industry figures interviewed for the piece. Like Rebecca Darwin of Garden & Gun, who notes: “Our first half newsstand sales are up 17 percent over the same period last year, our third quarter ad revenue is up 36 percent, and our ancillary businesses (online, retail, events, brand extensions) continue to grow.”

Or ad guy Tim Andrews, CEO of ASI who says print advertising continues to be important.

“We still see strong demand for print advertising, because it allows a company to tell its strategic and competitive story more clearly than digital only,” he notes.

It’s true that publishers find themselves in a “fog of choices,” as Jonathan Moffly of Moffly Media puts it.

As an industry we have to embrace the edge of the cliff. And commit to a vision for tomorrow to evolve,” he says. “As a regional magazine company I am hopeful and excited. We strive to fulfill current and anticipated customer want through whatever media mix is relevant, shifting ever more rapidly to experiment, while not imploding in doing so.”

Call it a “fog of choices” or a “dramatic transformation,” it’s clear that the magazine industry is surviving, evolving and becoming a whole new animal. Ten’s Scott Dickey sums it well, saying: We believe strongly in a broader brand affiliation model that ultimately supplants and overshadows a traditional magazine subscriber model.”

If there’s one thing to take away from all of this it’s this: there is no one answer. Now more than ever, you must understand your audience, engage your readers where they are, build your tribe in whatever ways make sense, and provide only the highest level of editorial content. Nail that, and the fog will clear.