Magazines Are Shifting to Content that Resonates with Readers

BY Kathy Crosett
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Like many traditional media sectors, magazine publishers have had to adjust to a changing world. Some publishers have shifted to entirely digital editions. Others have closed titles that had a long history, but were no longer resonating with consumers. And now, there are a few publishers who seem to have found their way into profitable publishing in the digital era.

Industry Challenge

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jeffrey Trachtenberg cited the following industry-​wide statistics, from Publishers Information Bureau, for the months of January through April, 2019. 

  • Advertising pages — dropped 14.5%
  • Magazine revenue — dropped 16%

Significant decreases like this explain why Authentic Brands, which just bought Sports Illustrated, will likely only continue publication of that well-​known title for two more years. During that time, the new owner plans to use the SI brand to develop a broader range of revenue-​generating activities like conferences and gambling.

Another route to financial success is to focus on delivering content that resonates with audiences. Analysts say that too many publications were printing the same kind of content in recent years. That problem could explain the steep drop in advertising pages between 2014 and 2018 for the following types of publications:

  • Sports: ‑55%
  • Business and finance: ‑52%
  • Enthusiast: ‑50%
  • Beauty and fashion: — 42%

To make matters worse, the hoped-​for digital bump in revenue hasn’t happened. Many advertisers are spending their digital funds with Google and Facebook.

New Strategy

Going forward, magazine publishers won’t be providing content on breaking news or sports stories. Instead, they’ll focus on niche markets with content that isn’t ‘time-​sensitive.’ These titles might focus on pet care, recipes or cooking ideas for specific diets like ketogenic, or recreation opportunities in the local market. The bottom line is that exclusive, hard-​to-​duplicate content sells to specific audiences.

You can check out various magazine reading profiles in AudienceSCAN, provided by AdMall at SalesFuel. With that information and the right kind of content in your publication, you’ll see your ad sales increase.