Of the 400 publishers recently surveyed by CXense, 37% of them believe that print will continue to be their primary channel for reaching readers. Yet almost that many (34%) consider print the least important channel, according to Rob O’Regan in his article “Why Print Endures.”
As O’Regan sums it up so nicely, “That bull-vs.-bear split nicely sums up the debate about the future of print.”
“You either love it or hate it. It’s either driving your business or strangling it. Print titles are closing, and new titles are launching (or relaunching) – some from digital-native publishers. Magazine publishers toil in a world of contradictions and conflicting bullet points,” O’Regan continues.
It’s true that ad pages and subscriptions rates are flat or even declining. Still, as O’Regan points out, “for many publishers print still drives the revenue train. Digital traffic and ad sales are growing quickly but aren’t close to closing the gap with print revenues or margins.”
We believe it’s — like so many things in life — a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you truly believe in the power of print, then you give it the appropriate amount of attention and resources to thrive.
And there are many believers that print is where the money is, including media critic Michael Wolff who claims that “online journalism can’t pay for itself.”
“Advertising probably works better in print than any other medium; it represents the ultimate engagement,” O’Regan quotes Wolff as saying, continuing that “advertising is so significantly less effective in the digital world, we’ve created a world that can’t pay for itself.”
And while digital is making lots of noise, and some incremental gains in the revenue line, it still doesn’t come close to gross print revenues for many titles, like Vogue for example, O’Regan notes.
“Vogue Publishing Director Stephen Quinn, speaking recently at Magazines Ireland’s Publishing360 conference in Dublin, said Vogue’s gross print revenues were 11 times that of its online revenues in 2013. Vogue’s print ad pages and revenue have grown each year since 2009.”
“An iconic fashion magazine brand such as Vogue can feed the conventional wisdom that in print magazines, readers consider the ads nearly as valuable as the editorial. Many publishers – and their advertisers – still subscribe to this mindset,” continues O’Regan.
It’s this idea — that advertising is an integral and welcome part of the magazine experience — that has yet to be replicated on digital platforms. And we doubt this will happen any time soon.