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Publisher Priorities Are Digital This Year

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM

What's at the top of magazine publishers' to-do lists this year? We asked our readers.

By William Dunkerley

What's more important this year: increasing revenue or increasing digital? Buyers Guide publisher Stuart Miller says, "Increase ad revenue." But "increase digital" is at the top of the list for Don Hellinger, publisher of several special interest magazines.

The Survey

We did a quick survey of STRAT readers to find out what's at the top other publishers' to-do lists. We were looking for trends in what they want to accomplish before this year is through. We used a small sample, so our results are nothing to split hairs with. Nonetheless, there was a clear message:

Fifty-six percent of the respondents are looking to do something digital. And a third of those publishers have their eyes on video content.

Only 13 percent have more revenue as their main goal, the same percentage as those with increasing circulation at the top of the agenda.

The Responses

Miles Bossom, who publishes Comms Business in the UK, says, "After 15 years as an established market leader, I guess I would like to see growth in terms of revenue. But more importantly, I'd like to see some fresh new ideas being developed. It is easy to stagnate when you have been in a sector for a long time." He's also interested in redesign and introducing more video content.

Bob Bernekees, publisher of CRM magazine, is targeting a weekly video news wrap-up program on his site. He expects it will contain stories pulled from news on his website, interviews, and expanded content gleaned from articles that didn't make it into the magazine. Bob says, "It's a simple concept, but one that's tough to squeeze in with consistency so far."

At DairyBusiness and HolsteinWorld magazines, owner Joel Hastings wants to install a video platform for his publications' videos and for videos submitted by others. He's been using YouTube.com. "It's been easy to use and inexpensive, but the lack of control and limited ability to use pre-roll, among other things, present drawbacks we can't handle any longer."

At Chilled Magazine, Anthony Graziano wants to increase the subscriber base for the interactive version of his magazine. Because he has done no active marketing of his app, it's been slow going, he reports. "Yes, we are one of the titles getting lost in the Apple Newsstand," he remarks. But he is planning to implement new marketing efforts this year and is looking to see a spike in downloads and app purchases.

James Lawrence, publisher of Coral and Amazonas magazines, says his company was an early adopter of digital media, while also maintaining print editions that continue to gain readership. His main concern this year is improving delivery of editorial content and ads to mobile devices so that they are readable on the small screens. "We also need to be ready to appear in the fast-changing array of electronic platforms," he adds.

While not a response to our survey, we also came across comments that Stacey Moncrieff posted on an Internet discussion list. Her publication, Realtor magazine, is an association publication. She found that some budget committee members were eyeing the printing, paper, and postage expense for the one-million-circulation magazine and asking "Why not go digital?" Stacey strongly argued that "replacing the print magazine with a digital-only magazine was a recipe for losing both readership and ad revenue." Last year she did add a digital option for members. "But so far only a paltry number (500) have gone that route," she concludes.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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