Big name publishers are offloading titles like it’s their day job. Is it the end of the magazine industry as we know it?
Yep, it sure is. And everything’s going to be okay.
“While mainstream magazines are seeing sales fall, and long-standing titles such as Loaded are printing their final issues, the world of niche, independent mags is going from strength to strength,” wrote Ruth Jamieson in The Guardian at that time.
The move continues, as evidenced by continued shake-ups in the industry.
“On Tuesday, Wenner Media announced the sale of its 25-year-old Men’s Journal to American Media Inc. That followed the sale of Wenner’s Us Weekly to AMI in March,” writes Sami Main in AdWeek recently.
“The next day, healthy-living publisher Rodale announced it is looking to sell some or all of its brands, including Men’s Health and Women’s Health,” Main continues. He also cites changes underway at Time Inc. as further evidence that the mass market industry is in a bit of trouble.
“One media buyer who spoke to Adweek suggested that ‘marketplace chaos’ results from the pressure to figure out what’s next,” Main explains, noting the serious drop off in print ad revenues in big name titles, and the failure of digital revenue to fill that gap.
Yet in the midst of chaos, we are seeing some tremendous successes. Big name publishers are finding tremendous success with some new titles, like Airbnb, The Pioneer Woman, and The Magnolia Journal. The Pioneer Woman, a collaborative effort between Hearst and HGTV, can’t stay on the shelves, and Meredith hit 1,000,000 copies for the latest issue of Magnolia.
So…is the magazine industry dying, or are we truly witnessing its next iteration? What do all these success stories have in common?
According to Cygnus Business Media CEO John French, young people (20-30-year-olds) are reading magazines at the highest rates ever. But there’s a catch.
“There’s something counter-intuitive happening with readership growing in that young demographic,” he said. “In five years, most magazines will probably become special interest.”
“Airbnb went from nothing to being one of the largest exchange sites in the world,” he continued in his interview with Main. “And what did they do when they hit a high level of success? They launched a magazine. Same with HGTV.”
He believes, as do I, that the days of mass appeal truly are waning. People have more choices than ever, but that doesn’t preclude massive success. Take Game of Thrones, for example, and its wild success as an HBO series. No, it wasn’t created and produced on one of the “major” networks. But we found it – and binged on it – anyway.
The same can happen in the magazine industry, and we are seeing the evidence of this in the titles above.
“The days of the mass appeals of magazines to 30 [million] to 50 million people at a time might be over, but enthusiasts and niche interests will succeed,” French said, pointing out that people want something “uniquely theirs.” Even if, ironically, that means sharing it with a million other people who feel the same.
Quality content that truly engages the reader on a personal level, created with the audience first in mind – as more publishers pick up this mantra, the magazine industry evolves into something truly amazing. And we love being a part of that.