Exclusive FIPP Congress speaker interview: Martha Stone

Martha Stone, CEO of WNMN, gives comprehensive analysis of the digital magazine marketplace in the second edition of the FIPP World Digital Media Factbook. Drawing on extensive industry knowledge and expert sources, the author presents all the facts in one clear volume. Stone gives a snapshot of the contents, and will be presenting the findings at FIPP’s Congress in Rome this September.

In the developed world, magazines are almost entirely digitalised in some way – either in a replica edition or online. In remote places, even though the audiences are smaller, publishers know that they still have to produce their magazines digitally to meet the needs of a percentage of their readership.

There have been a couple of studies which show that you instantly increase your audience via digital. Digital readers aren’t necessarily print readers. In fact, there is a rather large number of new readers created by producing new platforms for content. For example, Future Publishing in the UK has built a brand new audience with their digital products. The Economist has done the same thing, both in the UK and in the rest of the world. This is great news – publishers can find new audiences that supplement their print ones.

As the saying goes: “It’s print dollars and digital dimes”. But there are successful publishers who have found a way of monetising online. Those numbers can only go up. Future, as mentioned before, is a good example of a company going into digital in a powerful way and finding profitability. Of course, this is happening everywhere. I took a recent tour of companies in the US, taking in Meredith, Hearst and Condé Nast; all of them are finding success with digital products.
Mixed media
In the book a number of sources compare and contrast different media in terms of revenues and circulation figures. Print media �� magazines and newspapers – isn’t faring well. However, TV is holding its own and digital is growing in double digits across the board – in both the developed and developing world. This is good news for the magazine industry, and is where there are opportunities. If you break down the numbers between print and digital revenue streams for magazines around the world you’ll also see double or high digit growth for circulation and for digital advertising figures. This is from a smaller base – but it is growing over time. What we were talking about ten or five years ago was miniscule. Now we are talking about real money.

Opportunities are emerging in ecommerce. Opportunities to partner with retail operations to create marketplaces for certain consumer and business magazines. It is up to the magazine industry to be clever about the kind of partnerships they make. Fashion magazines have already opened the gate and have been successful in ecommerce. This is just the beginning. We have a huge section on ecommerce in the book. And you can see from all the data that it is unmistakable; ecommerce is the future. Publishers need to grab some market share.

Video is also a huge opportunity for all genres. Some videos represent revenue streams and some represent higher readership numbers. One of the buzz words in the advertising industry is engagement. That’s what the advertising industry wants from their media. They want to measure engagement, through the length and intensity of time spent with particular types of media. We all know that print magazines have a high engagement factor. People like to sit and read their glossy magazines when they are relaxing or waiting in the doctor’s waiting room, etc. The same is true for digital media on tablets, which produces high engagement content, including video. According to the statistics, video achieves the highest length of time of engagement. But, there are other types of content that draw in readers for longer periods of time. It’s up to publishers to create the content that encourages this and pleases advertisers. Digital media begs out for higher engagement content –not long winded text. It demands photographs, audio and video.

Social media
This is a really big area in the book and for magazines and media in general. It is important for publishers and over the past few years magazines have very much integrated social media into their mix. Today there are so many different kinds of social media being introduced. Just when we thought we had all of the quintessential social media captured new ones are emerging. A number of new social media sites are getting attention and targeting different interest groups. For example, Pinterest is really focused on women and what they’re interested in collecting and buying. Pinterest is a perfect example of how we can engage with readers. Meredith, with its portfolio of women’s magazines, has formed a perfect partnership with Pinterest. I predict more of this.

See Martha Stone speak at FIPP’s World Congress in Rome this September.

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