While this may not signal a revival of the golden years of print publications, it is worth taking a closer look at those players that have turned the digital revolution upside down. Piet van Niekerk takes a closer look.
In the UK, premier online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter, which launched in 2001, launched its bi-monthly glossy Porter magazine in February 2014. Sold for the equivalent of £5 in 60 countries and 220 cities across the world, the arrival of the new fashion print baby is said to have caused quite a stir in the corridors of Vogue. Not only has the Net-a-Porter brand extended its reach with an additional platform; the magazine has further established the Net-a-Porter brand as a leader in the world of fashion.
Facilitating the launch of its print title is the fact that Net-a-Porter has been collecting data about its costumers for more than a decade. By understanding the person who pays for goods online, it is better equipped to decide which stories to tell and should be able to cash in on magazine sales. While the trendy crowd at Net-a-Porter are tight-lipped about their debut circulation figures (due out in early February) or even how they will measure their success, one thing is certain, they chose print to build and extend their brand because, as editor-in-chief Lucy Yeomans puts it: “Women love print…and there’s something incredibly luxurious about it”.
In the same vein, the editor of the technology news website PandoDaily’s Pando Quarterly, Paul Carr, describes print as the ideal format for readers to take in long form articles, while “improving data retention and adding more credibility and clout to serious reporting”. The publisher of Airbnb’s Pineapple magazine, Christopher Lukezic shares a similar philosophy: “Print is still the best medium for telling stories in words and photographs.”
Pineapple launched as recently as November 2014, so it’s still early days when it comes to measuring the magazine’s success. In this case, like with many other brand extensions, monetary value is not always the motivator for merging into print.
The rationale for Airbnb’s print product was to inspire existing customers to travel and explore more, while also bulking-up the Airbnb brand. Published in-house and – at least for now - free of advertising, Pineapple is described by Lukezic as a magazine “about the connections that our community make in the environments where they live or travel.” He adds: “For us, print was the perfect medium to tell these stories…we hope that people look to Pineapple as an inspiring source of travel content and find it useful when planning their trips.”
It’s important that whichever channel is used – digital, print or social – the values and ethos of the publication remains intact and clearly communicated. Washington-based website Politico, which launched in 2006 with an innovative style of delivering nonpartisan political news fast and fairer than competitors, did not deviate from their online philosophy when they launched the Politico magazine towards the end of 2013. Like branching out into video, audio and social media feeds and even moving “back” to printing, their “fundamentals have not changed”, says Jim VandeHei, co-founder and executive editor.
Dr. Samir Husni of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi says he is not at all surprised by the web-to-print trend. In fact, he predicts this trend to only escalate. “The reader is platform agnostic. To reach the entire market, online brands will have to include print.” Apart from Net-a-Porter, he also lists Allrecipes.com who has started a print magazine and now have annual sales of almost 900,000. “It’s happening across the world, not only in the UK or America, but also in China.”
Dr. Husni feels strongly that the move to print is not all about nostalgia - as some commentators may allude to - but also makes good business sense in most cases. He references sneakernews.com and theatlasmagazine.com who have also branched into print in recent months. “These entities did not see the money (from advertisers) before they went into print.”
In what he calls the “welfare info society”, people expect to read online content for free but are prepared to pay for print. On top of this the reader does not experience print advertising as intrusive (which is more often than not the case with online) but rather as part of the experience. “In print, ads are not ignored. Online, it interrupts your experience. Advertising in print is like living in a house and you move from room to room at your own will. Online advertising is like being kicked off your own couch.”
But he also underlines the universal theme in all of these online to print mergers. The quality of content and editorial integrity stand central. Whether it’s a “focus on the elite and not on the masses” as in the case of Politico magazine, the 20 million strong Airbnb community or the brand-aware Net-a-Porter following, readers gravitate to sources of meaning and understanding. Print provides a framework for this, constructed from visual elements and the written word.
While online products – similar to radio – are immediate, print provides a dais for meaning and understanding that remains superior to the web.
We recently launched the new FIPP.com (in beta, while doing live testing and refinements). The relaunch is not only about look and feel, but even more so about us providing a platform to further enable the sharing of ideas, insights and opinions within our global network. If you have a story to tell, or are interested in contributing to FIPP.com on a regular basis, get in touch with our communications manager, Amy Duffin.
Over the last couple of years, teams at IDG have been engaged in robust tactical changes, becoming laser-focused on data to understand their audiences’ needs and growth.23rd Oct 2017 Features
There is now a small but growing number of examples of magazine brands who have harnessed Facebook Live to increase brand awareness, especially among a younger audience. One intriguing example though of how a media brand has worked in a commercial way with a third party on Facebook Live is Heat’s recent campaign with Lifetime TV.23rd Oct 2017 Features
British GQ has launched a new partnership with social music platform Vero, to increase engagement and bring its audience (and new audience) specially-commissioned content focusing on music and music lifestyle.23rd Oct 2017 Features
We speak to The New European’s editor, Matt Kelly, on pop up publishing, identity media and how a ‘digital guy’ has ended up helming this year’s most noteworthy print success.18th Oct 2017 Features
Magazines are a shortcut to quality and continues to deliver top results for advertisers, according to Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO at MPA, USA, said during a keynote on the second day of the FIPP World Congress in London (11 October) last week.16th Oct 2017 Features
Digital editions have been around for a long time, going all the way back to the late 90's. But in 2010 when the iPad hit the digital runway, publishers jumped on the tablet bandwagon faster than they could shout, “Hallelujah!”. The struggling publishing industry had found itself a saviour.16th Oct 2017 Opinion
View and download the speaker presentations from the FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017, London.19th Oct 2017 FIPP News
Without bringing newly skilled people into newsrooms, publishers will not succeed in the future. This was the stark warning delivered by Ralph Büchi, COO of the Ringier Group, CEO of Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland and newly elected chairman of FIPP, the network for global media.16th Oct 2017 Features
Artificial intelligence is a key technology that will transform many industries in the coming years. It is already playing an important role in the media, largely driven by the experiments of platforms like Google and Facebook.15th Oct 2017 Features
Visit our Youtube channelFIND OUT MORE
FIPP newsletters allow you to keep up with industry trends, research, training and events across the worldFIND OUT MORE
Get global coverage of your launches, company news and innovationsFIND OUT MORE
What’s happening now, what’s coming next