Take a trip back to the nineties. After a busy week, there was nothing better than lazing around on a Sunday morning checking out the day’s events in your newspaper, and flicking through your favorite magazines that came straight through your letterbox. It’s the sight of a bygone era – an era when traditional print media dominated our lives.
Nowadays, everyone is glued to their smartphones and tablets, consuming content as and when they want it – and that’s great. However, in the case of magazines, there’s still a market for high-quality independent publications that offer something unique and valuable. Below, we discuss in depth how technology has changed the magazine industry forever.
Print media is dead
Although the internet has undoubtedly changed the way we consume our content, people do still want to pay for their media. According to media analyst McKinsey, global spending on media will continue to rise 5% a year for the next five years. It appears, however, that less and less of this money is being spent on traditional print media, and instead on modern forms of digital content like Netflix, paywall content and magazine subscriptions.
One of the biggest casualties in the decline of print media is magazines. There are significant costs and risks involved with running a magazine. 35% fewer magazines were launched in the US in 2015 than the year previously, and some of the world’s biggest brands have struggled to maintain their market share and have shuttered titles completely.
In 2017, Condé Nast saw one of the biggest circulation drops out of the big name publishers, with its titles down 8.9% year on year. Time Inc. fared just as poorly, with title revenues down 7.6%, while Bauer Media saw sales down 7.4%.Print magazine subscriptions are over – consumers are looking for alternative ways to access the content they want to read.
Technology has made it easier to subscribe online
When news organizations such as the BBC and ABC began to offer their news bulletins online, many predicted the end of traditional journalism and print media. And, while it’s true that newspapers have suffered significant setbacks in recent years, there is still a market for independent journalists and publishers to make a living from selling their content online.
Take paywalls, as used by prestigious names such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Although this model of journalism has failed for some publishers, it has worked for high-brow publishers who produce content that cannot be found elsewhere online. This spin on traditional media has transformed the market and given journalists a lease of life.
But paywalls are only one part of the story. Online magazine subscription newsstands on Apple and Android devices have transformed the way we consume content. Indeed, you can find many of the articles and features in magazines on their respective websites, but there is something uniquely special about flicking through a well-designed magazine that’s delivered to your smartphone or tablet at the end of a busy working week. Simply subscribe to your favorite magazine on your device, and the latest issue will be delivered to you whenever it becomes available. It’s the ultimate in convenience and digital consumption. And it works.
New opportunities for independent publishers
Changes to the landscape have also opened up opportunities for start-up and indie publishers to appeal to the masses. Take AppleMagazine, for example; a title created by Mindfield Digital. Despite having no offline readership, the company has managed to create one of the leading technology news brands on the internet, with carefully designed pages created for an Apple-obsessed audience. The magazine, which began in 2011, is now delivered to more than a million iPhones and iPads a year in 197 countries and territories – testimony that the digital landscape is an open playing field between both established and upcoming brands.
AppleMagazine isn’t the only success story of the new digital era. There are thousands of magazines published online every week, to varying levels of success, in a whole range of industries. The availability of design software and publishing giants has meant that anybody who wants to publish a magazine can – no longer are there expensive barriers to entry.
The future of magazines
Although the market for digital magazines has never been more broad and diverse, we’re entering a period of content saturation – a period where, because there is so much content available for consumption, users are becoming increasingly picky and choosing to stick by their chosen bloggers, journalists and publishers rather than try something new. Therefore, it’s essential that magazine publishers work hard to develop and build a loyal audience base – an audience that they can exploit through subscriptions, advertisements, and affiliate marketing to monetize their content and guarantee the longevity of their brand.
The future of digital publishing looks bright, but with so much competition, producers will become ever-aggressive with their strategies to succeed. Who will win? Only time will tell.