Put 600 top magazine minds from around the world into a room for a couple of days and watch what happens. That’s exactly what Peter Houston did, and he covered the event in The Drum last week.
The occasion was the seventh annual Digital Innovator’s Summit, founded “to help content business leaders develop better strategies and better media models in the digital era,” explains Houston.
And how did they kick it off?
“The opening advice to delegates this year was to ditch the ‘D’ word,” he writes.
“FIPP CEO and President Chris Llewellyn, said he was trying to banish the word ‘digital’ from his own vocabulary. Difficult at a digital innovation conference, but he made his point,” says Houston.
The issue with the “d” word is that it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant to the majority of consumers.
“People born to the internet age don’t describe things as digital – cameras are just cameras, not digital cameras. [Llewellyn] opened with a 1981 TV news report about a US newspaper experiment that encouraged readers to spend two hours downloading daily news texts to their TV screens over their home phones. Llewellyn said people born after the film was made would be amused, and confused, by the whole concept,” writes Houston.
So what does this mean for publishers? According to Frank Anton of publisher Hanley Wood, publishers would do well to starting acting like marketing agencies.
“Magazine publishers are fantastically well placed to expand their traditional role and become more akin to a thoroughly modern marketing agency. We understand our consumers inside out, we talk to them in their language, and we now speak to them across a multitude of platforms and channels,” said Anton.
This deep knowledge of the audience is, Houston believes, what will define magazines 3.0, and whether it’s on paper, on screen or other medium depends on how best to capture the reader’s attention. Quoting BoSacks, “Digital… print… the substrate is irrelevant. It’s all about reading.”
And that is indeed the key.