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Mags To Their Digital Units: Drop Dead

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Funny how the parallel universe works: the same magazine publishers who were touting digital last year because, well, print sucked, are now going to spend about $90 million talking about how print rules as the economy shows signs of an uptick. Five of the leading publishers — Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) Hearst, Condé Nast, Wenner Media and Meredith (NYSE: MDP) — have banded together for this “power of print” campaign, reminiscent of a similar campaign by newspaper publishers a few years ago, when the world was slightly rosier. WSJ reports that the ad campaign will be launched at an industry event tomorrow in SF, and the ads will start appearing in May editions of the participating mags.

One ad says: “The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive.” Another one, to run in ESPN (NYSE: DIS) magazine, features Michael Phelps, with the headline “We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.” Really? This is the message you want to send your own digital units? This after four of these five names are part of a digital JV Next Issue Media, meant to develop new digital formats as the print revenues keep eroding.

And of course who else but the troglodyte Jann Wenner to “orchestrate” this campaign, the guy whose magazine Rolling Stone can’t figure out how to keep a domain name up; and oh wait, who outsources the running of the mag website to *RealNetworks*, until late last year. That Wenner. Good luck, the other four.

14 Responses to “Mags To Their Digital Units: Drop Dead”

  1. armchair

    It’s very simple: Media companies are losing money on their websites, or making very little. What are they supposed to do–keep promoting a medium that is bankrupting everybody? Get real. They are in a tight spot, for sure–and will continue to be until people start paying for digital content or until ad rates go up. Otherwise, there soon will be no credible news sources in America, just some dude named Ralph blogging from his basement.

  2. rpmayette

    You’ve missed the point entirely because you are equating a magazine’s web site with a magazine’s digital edition. Magazines companies were never interested in creating web properties that could not by adequately monetized. They are, though, very interested in digital magazines: curated spaces of content with immersive reader experiences. Next Issue Media is interested in creating immersive experiences, not surf-prone web pages. This new print-extolling advertising campaign is entirely in line with the value that magazines provide to the consumer, be it either through print or the (soon to come en masse) digital formats. Digital edtions are not under fire here.

  3. NetNoir

    Isn’t it more accurate to say these magazines have colluded to donate 90 million dollars worth of advertising across publications they collectively own?

  4. Can’t you smell the job security desperation here? Seriously, where do you take strategic management skills like “breakfast” and “lunch” as print revenue fades? Whose else is gonna pay the dinosaurs those outlandish salaries?

  5. What’s the point of advertising inside the magazines? Wouldn’t they just be preaching to the converted? It seems like a better idea to put these ads on the internet to encourage internet users to come back to print.

  6. Douglas Page

    See The New York Times advertising column from last June, when the writer interviewed the one of the smartest magazine executives around, Cathie Black. She stated quite clearly she wants 1.6 million women showing up a the newsstand to buy Cosmo. They do. The last thing Black wants is to commoditize her publications by putting them up on the Web — which, as you know, has worked out so well for the newspaper industry. This is the right.

  7. Could it be that having looked at the business model, the idea of monetising digital content across competing brands and only being able to attract micropayments for their troubles does not stack up?

    Ultimately most of the revenues that these publication generate is from advertising. Until they figure out a way of selling this kind of content on its own merit they will struggle whether it is print or digital.

  8. The radio industry should say the same to their digital units. The streaming audio is great, but the web page builders all seem to think they can be a destination web site. First priority: make it easy to listen. Second, third, fourth priorities: make it easy to listen,

  9. With Apple’s recent announcement that they sold 10 billion song downloads on iTunes, it would be nice to be able to subscribe to these magazines for the iPad. Apple is already linking up with traditional book publishers to get ebooks on the iTunes store. It would seem that it’s more about the content than the paper medium.

    Buddy Scalera –