By: Karina Fabian, Marketing Communications Specialist
It’s no surprise to publishers that the magazine industry is in a decline. The PwC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2015-2020 predicts that by 2020, the magazine industry will have dropped 20% of its 2015 rate, representing a loss of approximately $19 billion globally. While 134 titles launched in 2017, 50 others closed, and overall there are 207 fewer titles than in 2008.
Audiences are declining – by 56% to 64% depending on the industry. This has led to decreasing ad revenues, particularly for print and for magazines outside the United States. In the U.S., digital revenue is growing and will soon surpass the ad revenue earned by print, but it’s not made up the difference in the overall decline of print.
Again, no one in the industry finds this especially surprising. The question is: what can be done about it?
The first step, of course, is to understand the changing trends and to consider cause. For example, the biggest decline is with popular culture and entertainment magazines, while science and technology periodicals are seeing an increase in growth, according to the Magazine Media Factbook, 2018-2019. Social media has most likely contributed to this, since it supplies people regular doses of pop culture and entertainment in bite-sized pieces without requiring payment or even the effort of going to another source. (Interestingly, when social media is absent, people will return to other sources, as was discovered during a 45-minute Facebook outage Aug 3, during which digital news sites saw an increase in views.)
Beyond understanding the trends, however, it’s vital to understand what your particular audience wants. Multiple technologies can help with this. Of course, there is software to detect clicks and time on page, which are vital for learning not only what titles and topics attract readers, but also what prose meets the reader’s expectations and needs. Heat maps, too, assist on discerning reader interest, as they show where a reader lingers on a page and for how long. This helps magazine publishers understand how positioning and topics keep readers on the page.
These technologies have been around a while, but magazines are also turning to more sophisticated, artificial-intelligence-driven solutions for deep audience analysis. Beyond simple demographics, these programs can uncover a digital reader’s interests, income, reading habits and more. This data is invaluable for advertising as it not only enables magazines to attract advertisers to place ads in their publications (online and digital) but also to better understand the needs of their readers.
Audience engagement and audience analytics software are the top two choices by magazine publishers for software purchases in 2019. They realize that by better understanding their readership, they can better meet reader needs – and by meeting those needs, they can help their own situation.
About the Author: Karina Fabian has been writing about business, leadership & management, and software applications for over a decade. Before joining Newscycle, she wrote reviews of business software and services for Top Ten Reviews and Tom’s Guide, and about business practices and leadership for Business News Daily and Business.com. In addition to writing for Newscycle, she is a freelance writer and author of 16 books.