Print Is Important in Building Strong Media Brands
We must remember that without print revenues, many publishing companies would not be able to finance a high-quality editorial team. In Germany, digital accounts currently for around 20 percent of revenue, with print generating 57 percent and other sources such as conferences, corporate publishing, books and DVDs contributing the remaining 23 percent. The figures are similar in other European countries.
With nearly 2.5 million digital-only subscriptions (as of the third quarter of 2017), The New York Times
is an industry leader. That has led to speculation about when the publishing company will discontinue the print edition. In this connection, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. said: “The print edition of The New York Times remains profitable through subscription revenue alone. So The New York Times will continue to appear in a print edition for the foreseeable future.”
These examples underscore the thesis that, despite the digital transformation, printed newspapers and magazines will continue to be a basic business segment for publishing companies in order to maintain a strong media brand across all channels. Stephan Scherzer, Managing Director of the Verbandes Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger (Association of German Magazine Publishers, or VDZ) Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger
notes this as well: “When building a community, print plays a central role as a brand anchor.”
New Companies Are Still Being Formed
Despite the difficult conditions, in the VDZ’s trend survey, nearly two-thirds of magazine publishers (62 percent) said that they wanted to publish special editions on the market in 2017. As in other areas, innovation cycles in the magazine industry have shortened substantially.
At the end of the first quarter of 2017, Germany had a total of 1,596 consumer magazines that are published on at least a quarterly basis. In 2016, publishing companies launched 87 new magazines on to the market, while 53 magazines were discontinued. In other words, the number of titles increased by 34. And 18 new magazines were launched in the first quarter of 2017. However, a thematic shift can be observed. While the circulations of country living magazines increased in the past few years, 20 percent fewer copies of the German-language publication LandLust
were sold in the third quarter of 2017. And nearly all food magazines across the board have seen decreases. By contrast, health magazines have become the new beacons of hope.
Thematic Niches Offer Opportunities
The magazines that have gone a different route, pursuing a strategy known as “reverse publishing”, are worth discussing. This refers to online offerings that subsequently develop into printed magazines. These include US tech magazine CNET
While in Germany the recipe website „Chefkoch
“ has become a print magazine. What has changed significantly is the print run that publishing companies start with. Half of the magazines launched in recent years have a paid circulation of 50,000 copies or fewer. “Print publications are becoming more targeted and higher-priced,” says Scherzer, describing the situation on the magazine market.
A Self-Contained Ecosystem
As in the past, change will remain the only constant for print in the future, but these changes will have to be adapted in the portfolio at ever shorter intervals. So the industry must rely more on innovations. If it manages to do this, print will continue to play a substantial role in multi-channel strategies, serving as an anchor for building ecosystems in which the individual channels profit from one another.