THE MEDIA YEARBOOK: Cobus Heyl, the chief content officer and marketing manager of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Périodique (FIPP) – the worldwide magazine association – shares his predictions.
The message for magazine media in 2015 is one of careful optimism, as the industry braces for radical change.
While print in general is in decline, this alone cannot be held as the yardstick for magazine media’s health anymore. Today, consumers engage with magazine media brands across a wide range of platforms, including online and mobile. The perception that “magazines equal print” no longer holds true.
These are some of the developments that will carry through to 2015:
Evidence of a changing narrative
In 2014, evidence emerged of the effectiveness of multiplatform magazine media in delivering return on investment.
Modernisation from the centre
This trend is more relevant to larger magazine media companies, which used to organise business around their brands. In today’s world – with the ability to leverage centralised content, commercial and technological capabilities – modernisation happens from the centre.
- Jobs such as ‘engineer’ or ‘statistician’ will become as much a part of the magazine media organisational DNA as ‘editor’.
- The ‘millennial class’ is a key driver of change. Getting young talent on board is important.
- The magazine publisher of old has become an antiquated designation. Those at the helm must understand all the forces at play today.
Two key trends are programmatic and native advertising (aka advertorials).
Programmatic: If you haven’t dipped a toe in or don’t understand it yet, do so fast. Soon the majority of digital advertising will be sold this way. Get in the game.
Native: Too often the ‘against’ proponents’ starting viewpoint is that all advertising is bad. But is it, really? In turn the ‘for’ proponents are often dismissive of the impact on audience-relationships if unchecked. Look for balance and set clear guidelines because native advertising is here to stay.
Circulation income of print products will decline, generally. Revenue from paid content is not close to replacing it and questions around its feasibility remains, but there have been some successes and projections remain for growth.
One model to emerge is premium membership, offering customers a variety of benefits from content to behind-the-scenes opportunities.
Few content providers have cracked the smartphone medium – from both content and commercial perspectives. The opportunity is massive.
Video presents a substantial opportunity for magazine media (broadband allowing, South Africa!). In the words of Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith, it is “a golden asset” on which companies are taking “large bets”.
Video presents magazine media companies with an opportunity to rake in new forms of advertising revenue. Formats range from clips designed for easy sharing to full-scale, TV-like programmes, both recorded and live. Video is a ‘hot’ space with activity set to increase.
Events and experiences
With all of the ‘noise’ surrounding daily lives, events provide an opportunity to disconnect, step back and learn, relax and/or re-energise. While the events landscape is more competitive than ever before, it is not only a lucrative revenue stream, but also a top way to connect with customers.
‘Magazines’ have always been effective in driving commerce, but now they can influence and service customers throughout the purchase journey. Be warned, however, it is not a walk in the park with large competitors and low margins at play.
Data and analytics
- Big data has been on the radar screens for years. Focus on the useful application of data will speed up.
- With the millennial audience more open to the sharing of ‘personal’ data, it presents an opportunity. But be careful, what you offer in return must be relevant, building on a two-way relationship and reciprocity.
- Customer relationship management is crucial, not only for what you can sell over and above your ‘magazines’, but also for the dialogue you can develop with loyal customers.
While generally in decline, there are exceptions to the rule – for example, luxury and certain specialist segments are doing well. Some print magazine brands will disappear, but companies will also continue to launch in print where it makes sense. This includes launches from pure-play web companies reversing the model, i.e. launching products in print.
Investing in start-ups
Many have started to invest cash generated in print into new start-up businesses as a means for growth and/or to bring talent into the fold. It can be a hit-and-miss game, but don’t lose sight of the opportunity.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT presents a new phase of technological disruption. Understand what it means.
Instead of just the magazine media company next door, today your competition includes the Googles, Facebooks and Amazons of the world. Understand the threats as well as the opportunities of working within their ecosystems.
This post was first published in 2015 The Media Yearbook. A digital version of the full magazine can be downloaded here.