2012 has not been a great year for magazine publishers as they struggle to find the right balance between print and digital formats. Many industry leaders, including Time, have seen their ad revenues drop significantly. But the new head of that company sees promise in using consumer data to promote better digital ad services to marketers. If she’s right, more magazine publishers could follow suit.
A recent New York Times article describes how Time plans to change the entertainment it is offering to better suit the consumer who is reading its magazines. Part of the strategy will be delivering news in the way a consumer actually wants information during the course of a day. This means giving the reader “bite-size headlines and news flashes” in the morning. Later in the day, while at their desk, readers may have more time to watch a video. It’s only in the evening that most consumers have the time to read an entire article. Overall, the average consumer can be found waiting – in line, for a ride, etc. – for about 1.4 hours a day and the natural tendency is to pull out that smartphone and this is another opportunity to deliver a small but engaging bit of content. If a magazine publisher can release pieces of content that align with a consumer’s interest and availability during the day, time spent on that format should increase.
To make the other side of the business work, Time has to sell ad space to marketers in this new digital format. Analysts believe this shift will be difficult with respect to generating enough revenue but developing a ‘consumer plan’ as Ms. Lang has done for flagship Time and the firm’s other popular publications – People and Sports Illustrated – is a good first step and may serve as a template for other magazine publishers.
[Source: Chozick, Amy. Time Inc.’s New Chief Rethinks Magazines for a Digital Audience. Nytimes.com. 30 Jul. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2012]