In a recent Ready blog post on the future of the magazine industry, perhaps the most pertinent soundbite came from Joely Carey, former editorial director of Fabulous magazine:
“The magazine industry isn’t dead, it’s just different.”
Seeing Imagine by Immediate, Immediate Media’s creative and content studio, celebrating its first birthday recently reminded us of this quote. Magazine publishers aren’t just magazine publishers any more. They are video production houses, event producers, data providers, e-commerce powerhouses, educational institutions, membership clubs and content creators across multiple formats.
Here are just a few examples of the areas that publishers are diversifying into as a result of the long-term decline in print readership.
Events have long been effective revenue streams for publishers. So it is no surprise, considering today’s pressurised market conditions, to see new events springing up and different formats being tested.
Haymarket’s Campaign title recently launched a new event series called Campaign Underground, a “unique series of live events bringing together unexpected voices in unusual places”.
Meanwhile, BBC Good Food are capitalising on the popularity of larger events like the Good Food Shows to launch Good Food Eats Out, a series of exclusive events at top restaurants, and FEAST, a format resembling more of a food festival than a show.
Despite print circulation falling across the board, many magazine brands remain both powerful and valuable. One way publishers are seeking to capitalise on this is through new products launched using the strength of these brands.
Hearst UK’s Men’s Health title recently launched their own range of vitamins and supplements, creating a new revenue stream from the trust that their loyal audience place in the brand.
Condé Nast’s approach is to create products that benefit their audience in a slightly different way. Based in London, the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design offers fully accredited courses “for those who want to be tomorrow’s stars of the fashion industry”.
Video is becoming an increasingly important weapon in the armoury of virtually every major publisher.
The aforementioned Imagine by Immediate may still be somewhat wet behind the ears, but that hasn’t stopped them creating original and effective video content for the likes of Shell.
And it’s not just branded content. Time Inc. UK’s TV production arm TI Productions recently secured its first commission, a 30-minute documentary for BBC Three.
If readers trust the magazine brands they love, then surely it’s logical for those brand to sell recommended products to them online?
It is, and they do – in a number of ways. Take Fabled by Marie Claire, for example. A bonafide beauty retailer selling the finest products, which the Marie Claire magazine has been reviewing and rating for years so their authority is beyond question. They’ve even opened a bricks-and-mortar Fabled store in London.
BBC Good Food adopt a different tactic. Now, when you view any of their recipes, you can send the list of ingredients to selected supermarkets’ websites where they are placed straight into your basket. You get the goods to your door, and Good Food takes a cut. Clever.
Perhaps most telling about all of the above is how these companies describe themselves these days. Immediate Media is now a “special interest and content platform”. Time Inc. UK is a “branded media company”. No mention of magazines anywhere.
Will the print magazine die out altogether? Doubtful, as niche interests and the indie sector will always have a demand for print. But there is a sea change – and it’s happening right now.