In this digital age, it may seem odd to be talking about the value of print in publishing. But, despite past predictions and expectations, print is far from dead. In fact, with a few nips, tucks, and strategy changes, print figures heavily into many magazine publishing operations. So, how are publishers continuing to make print a viable medium?
The value of print
Print still makes up a large percentage of publishers’ revenues — especially legacy publishers. Jon Werther, president of Meredith National Media Group, said print made up two-thirds of the company’s ad revenue in 2017 and nearly one-third of its overall revenue came from print circulation.
However, for most successful publishers, it’s not a print or digital choice, it’s a print and digital strategy. They are keeping print successful by adding a digital edition or digital component to their strong print publication strategies, changing up their processes, and using new technologies to enhance their print endeavors.
Profiting with print
Whether you are a legacy print magazine publisher with an added digital presence or primarily a digital operation with an associated print product, you have many opportunities to enhance print profitability.
- Leverage big data. Digital publishers have always had the edge in using data to prove the value of advertising. But print publishers are also finding ways to leverage big data to produce hard numbers. For example, Meredith uses the Meredith Sales Guarantee, in which the company guarantees advertisers incremental increases in their ad investment returns via print, digital, and cross-platform sales impacts. So far, every company involved has experienced positive returns on their investments as well as increases in sales. Similarly, Bauer Media uses GFK MRI Starch Advertising Research to show advertisers how print advertising can boost their marketing results.
- Change up your publishing schedule. Some publishers are combining issues and reducing frequency to save on printing and delivery costs. They may align issues around seasons or events to better serve advertiser needs. Other magazine publishers, especially those who rely on newsstand sales, are increasing the frequency of their issues to better serve their markets and increase revenue.
- Increase price. Publishers of high-quality print magazines that serve audience needs are finding that regular price increases do not alienate loyal readers.
- Offer single-issue publications. These are large special-edition magazine issues that each focus on one topic. Readers are willing to pay more for these publications because they are interested in the entirety of the themed issues.
- Get the best of both worlds. Print publishers are using “bridging technologies” to enhance print with digital components. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things are changing the user experience. BizBash Media has announced it will introduce an AR-enhanced version of its print magazine that will turn its pages into mobile screens. In addition, Forbes readers were recently able to interact with Warren Buffet by taking a picture of the cover, which launched a microsite. Other magazines are partnering with smart speaker systems to integrate their content so users can ask questions about articles or listen to related content.
Although print is still quite a viable option for magazine publishers, it will likely continue evolving alongside digital magazine offerings. These changes may also require you to adjust your publishing strategy. But, rather than lament the old days of print, savvy publishers are embracing digital opportunities. After all, print and digital are almost always better together.