Print is still the final word in publishing

Despite the advent of digital content. Printed material remains of utmost importance to publishers

During the last ten years there has been huge change in magazine media, partly due to digital publishing start-ups. However, despite the perception that print is dying and turning to digital is the only way to survive, there are still many publishers who recognise the value of print.

Print does, after all, continue to generate the largest revenue chunk for most publishers. Print advertising accounted for 62% of the $16.6 billion in magazine advertising revenue in 2016, and 87% of circulation revenue came from print products. Whilst most of the resources that were previously chanelled into print will almost definitely not return to pre-digital totals, brands are still keen to invest in print campaigns, and they continue to believe in the power of the medium.

“The old trope that print is dead is just lazy thinking,” says Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of the MPA – the Association of Magazine Media.

“There is so much innovation that you can still bring to the magazine part of the business,” says Chris Mitchell, chief business officer for the Condé Nast Culture Collection. “For a while we were so focused on innovation equalling digital that we as an industry didn’t put quite enough of our brain power into how we could integrate the businesses and the delivery of magazines.”

Publishers are backing up their continued faith in print against big digital rivals with solid figures from a variety of different research sources. Bauer Media rely on print for over 75% of their revenue and use such data to show potential advertisers the value of the printed medium in reaching their marketing goals. They argue that because readers are making active decisions when purchasing the print copies, they provide improved reader engagement; engagement that can be proved with third-party data.

This does not mean that printed media has not had to adapt to the changes brought about by digital media. For instance some titles have made changes to the publication frequency of their magazines instead of just following the calendar. Vanity Fair for example found that adjusting their schedule slightly moving January’s issue and combining the July and August issues into one ‘summer issue’ allowed for an extra issue to be published in February’s award season when engagement was higher and revenues increased for both the magazine and their advertisers. The success of Vanity Fair’s decision also caused W magazine to reduce their annual total of issues from 10 to 8, working more with fashion seasons rather than the caledar months.

Print also has the benefit of being better able to persuade consumers to part with their cash. While digital-first companies struggle to convince readers to access content behind a paywall, those who focus on print media can raise the price of their product, or charge for digital content, without alienating loyal subscribers. The tangibility of the printed item still appeals.

Print also gives publishers extra revenue through single issue publications and it seems that here too customers are willing to pay more for the printed product. For example last year Trusted Media Brands sold many of it ‘megazines’ for more than double the cost of a standard issue, and people were willing to pay for it.

If anything digital has only improved the market for print, allowing customers to trial magazines in the cheaper printed format before committing to the costlier hard copies, and the use of online ordering and renewals has made long term commitment to a print subscription that much easier with a more streamlined process. Print it seems is not going anywhere just yet.

Written by Beth Braverman, 22 February 2018, published on Read the full article here