FML Blog

Print's unique appeal remains as magazines brands expand to new platforms

Wednesday, December 10, 2014      Marjolaine Detry      (Disabled)
Tom Hawkins (Communications Manager at PPA, UK) discusses magazine brands and their expansion across a variety of platforms in his article for the 2014/15 EMMA magazine. The theme of changing media consumption patterns remains current and there is a sense of optimism these days around the idea of the diversification of content streams and revenue streams. Hawkins looks at the transition process from print alone to multi-channel and multi-platform offerings, using statistics from the PPA’s annual survey Publishing Futures to get a sense of trends among PPA members.

What’s changed and why?


Hawkins outlines the shift from magazine to magazine brand, and observes that this is not something that has happened overnight. He notes that print is no longer the only audience touch point. Indeed, magazines have always offered their readers additional content but usually as an extra or add-on to print content. According to Hawkins, magazines have accelerated in their efforts to reach out to audiences across a number of complementary platforms and this has evolved at an unprecedented rate following the emergence of social media platforms and the growth of the digital desktop.  Further evolution in the magazine as a brand concept has also occurred in tandem with increased tablet and smartphone ownership.

How is it changing?


Based on PPA’s annual survey Publishing Futures, Hawkins is able to provide evidence for increasingly fragmented structures among magazine brands.

PPA states

This survey looks at revenue streams in PPA’s member network. The results from the 2012 and 2013 surveys show that among the PPA members surveyed, the share of total revenue resulting from digital has more than doubled, while there has been a reduction in percentage of the revenue stream attributable to print.

Who are the modern multi-platform brands?



If we look at some of the magazine brands that have gone multi-platform then we gain a better understanding of the process. Hawkins’ best example is that of Wired, the technology magazine. Not only does this magazine have iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and Zinio editions, it also has a news app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. On top of this Wired has its own podcast and a very strong social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, and Tumblr. Alongside this they have also organized live conference events: Wired Money, Wired Health and Wired: Next Generation.
“The future is multi-platform omni-channel, platform agnostic – call it what you will.”
Other examples of magazine brand expansion include Good Housekeeping and their Good Housekeeping Institute for testing products, and the GQ and Vogue cafés that are located around the world.

What are the new challenges?



While in most cases the shift has gone from print magazine to digital content, this is not always the case. Hawkins points out one notable deviation, with respect to online shopping giant Net-A-Porter this process happened in reverse. From their position as an established online platform they launched their own fashion glossy, Porter, which was used to showcase their collection and to illustrate upcoming trends. Complete with editorial content, this was a direct competitor to other print magazines in this area.
“Print’s unique appeal endures, it seems, but it’s through a genuine multi-platform approach that magazine publishers are now guaranteeing that it will be happily ever after.”