The magazine publishing landscape continues to evolve at a rate some find difficult to keep up with, and technology has brought about changes that weren’t even on publishers’ radars just a few years ago. Print has supposedly been dead and buried several times since the beginning of digital, yet some print-only magazine startups are seeing continued success. Content has gone from longer general articles, to shorter bulleted pieces, and back to long-form again. In fact, 2017 was filled with ups and downs — and 2018 will likely be no different. Here are some magazine publishing trends to watch for.
Print is still not dead. The publishing industry was built on print and, although it may never return to what it once was, opportunities still exist in the medium. Because the printed sector lacks an accountable data mechanism, print magazines are difficult vehicles for advertising sales tracking. But print magazines are great branding and marketing tools that can help publishers support their digital presence. Plus, print still draws strong audiences in art, travel, and lifestyle titles as people like the sensory experiences that glossy, colorful, tactile printed pages deliver. And some digital-only magazines are bridging the gap between digital content and print branding with digital covers.
Consolidation will likely continue. 2017 began with five major magazine players: Condé Nast, Rodale, Meredith, Hearst, and Time Inc., according to the Folio article. Through mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, and reorganization, Rodale is now part of Hearst, Time is part of Meredith, Condé is still giant, and AMI and Penske Media acquired Wenner Media’s assets to round out this new big-five hierarchy. Such consolidation will likely continue in 2018. These new giants will be better able to survive in uncertain times, but it also means saying goodbye to some familiar, longtime solo publishers in the industry.
High-quality highly targeted content reigns. With the amount of digital content growing exponentially, competition for magazine readers’ eyes is fierce. Publishers are quickly changing their content strategies from quantity to quality, focusing their content on quality in-depth, long-form content rather than quickly consumable bite-sized nuggets. Publishers will need to actively pursue reputable, authoritative experts to provide valuable information that highly targeted audiences need and want. To do that, they will need to build relationships with their readers that go beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Google — and be willing to pay their writers well to keep the best on their staffs.
Mobile-friendly location-based content is key. Mobile growth in 2017 is not likely to slow in 2018. Consumers want to access personalized content whenever, wherever, and on many devices, so publishers can’t afford to be lackadaisical about geotargeted mobile content. Not only do they have to ensure their content loads fast and is optimized for all device types and screens but readers will also not settle for less-than-great experiences when consuming it. In addition to publishers’ content, advertisers also need to serve up ads programmatically based on readers’ locations.
Focus shifts to “innovative” advertising. Yes, ads are getting more targeted and innovative, but you can file this one under “whaaaat?”: IKEA recently placed an ad in a Swedish magazine that asks “pregnant women to pee on this page.” The ad is actually a pregnancy test, and if the test is positive, it reveals a surprise discount. According to the Washington Post article, IKEA explains the strategy by stating, “Life contains those magical, life-changing moments, and IKEA wants to be right there when they happen.” Readers might be wondering, “Isn’t there such a thing as too close?” Innovative, gimmicky, or just plain weird, some magazine publishers and advertisers hope this one gets flushed before it becomes a trend.
The only thing we know for sure for 2018 is changes will push savvy publishers to stay on top of industry shifts to survive. Successful publishers will likely be those who are flexible and willing to adapt their strategies and operations accordingly.
Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.