Steve Kilisky's Dynamic Media Blog

January 20, 2006

Sign-o-the-times?

I am a voracious reader, especially when it comes to trade magazines related to this industry. 10 years ago trade pubs were my primary source of information to keep tabs on competitors, but also as a source of info to educate myself about the latest technologies and trends.

I don't profess to know much about the magazine publishing industry, but I can't help but notice three trends that must be having some sort of impact. First, similar to mainstream magazines, as our industry matures, the trade magazines have fragmented with magazines dedicated to a wide range of special interests (digital cinema and extreme sports to name just two).

At the same time, because of the immediacy of the Web, monthly magazines are challenged to be able to provide news in a timely fashion. As an example, Creative COW and Digital Media NET both had reviews of After Effects 7.0 within hours after the official Adobe announcement.

The last trend is a little more ominous. Unlike general magazines, trade pubs do not derive much revenue from subscriptions. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like each month many of the magazines I enjoy reading are getting thinner and thinner. This is not a complete surprise given the general industry trend that is shifting advertising dollars from print to the Web.

So where am I going with this? Today I received the latest issue of one of the magazines that I have been reading for over 15 years; Film & Video. The letter from the editor informed readers that this would be the last issue in print and that they would be "moving online" http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/ While many magzines have an online presence; I am intrigued and admire Film & Video's decision to let go of their print legacy and focus on taking advantage of the immediacy, personalization, and richness (video reports) that the Web offers.

Is this a sign of the times?

Posted by Steve Kilisky at 9:26 PM on January 20, 2006

Comments

Jim Feeley — 7:36 AM on January 21, 2006

Actually, general magazines don't really make any money on subscriptions either. It costs a lot to get someone to subscribe and a lot to get them to renew.

All magazines (and newspapers and OTA TV) are impacted by Net resources.

The business of most magazines is to serve the needs of advertisers. If you're able to also serve the needs of readers, so much the better. But advertisers pay the bills so they often come first. For example, take a look at...nah, no need to pick on anyone.

Some web forums and mailing lists depend a lot less on advertising, and thus some allow unrestrained exchanges of information (some other forums restrict criticism to protect advertisers, though).

The traditional publishers can of course move to the Net. But they are no longer sole oracles of information. A free site or list run by users w/o a profit motive can compete quite well. The publishers have a lot of overhead. They'll need to make money somehow...

Another competitor to traditional magazines: Sites like Adobe.com. Which gives Adobe a better return for their dollar, a magazine ad or a tutorial/story on Adobe.com? Well it's a mix, but several years ago Adobe.com wasn't competing for marketing dollars.

I could talk about this forever. I like dead-tree media. But it's a tough business these days. I hope the magazines I read survive in some form.

Jim

Megan Cunningham — 5:58 PM on January 22, 2006

Like Steve and Jim, I'm a voracious (dare I say obsessive) reader of all things related to the technology and business of the entertainment and media-industry.

One additional trend all publishers and traditional media companies are coping with today is the back-from-the-dead buzz word, *convergence.*

New competitors are emerging in every B2B and B2C market --and the lessons of Chris Anderson's "Long Tail" (http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/) are being realized. Real companies are starting to monetize content online --and I believe there is no turning back.

One more trend I've observed (to Steve's growing list) is that our industry is among the early adopters to incorporate internet video into its business and editorial.

At this week's Sundance Film Festival, there is an impressive Adobe-supported short film lineup online (http://festival.sundance.org/2006/watch/index.aspx).

There is so much chatter about subscription revenue and downloadable content but currently with all the problems that micro-payments and DRM present, I would point to Sponsorship as an interesting new way of supporting content online. And to internet video as a way for publishers to differentiate themselves. I feel this combo is especially compelling as a way of expanding the web editorial/advertising mix beyond the traditional of text articles and (yawn) banner ads.

And as an example of reaching a targeted, high-quality audience-using original video online, Sundance is exemplary.

Steve Kilisky — 6:21 PM on January 22, 2006

Hi Jim and Megan,

I appreciate you both weighing in with your thoughts on this topic.

I wasn't aware of the longtail site, but after a quick perusal, it looks like it going to be a long night of blog reading. Thanks for the pointer.

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