New Yorker Magazine history online for subscribers

I recently wrote about the type of content that will drive readers to subscribe to publications, whether the information is consumed through print or online. Well written, edited and hard to access literary and social commentary, it seems, will always be in demand by a percentage of the market. In Australia, The Monthly is a stand-out publication. In the USA, The New Yorker has been grabbing people’s attention since February 21, 1925.

I have written about digital editions of magazines before, by this I mean publications that appear online as page-turning replicas of their print editions. This format has its place and purpose in an increasingly diverse market. The New Yorker, while having a comprehensive website, has recently had every weekly edition of the magazine digitised since February 21, 1925, and is releasing each future issue in this digital format, as well as continuing to publish sample content on their website.

Subscribers to The New Yorker can now access a digital edition of every issue ever published. This is not only a powerful internal tool but a massive driver for subscriptions, from what I have heard. Yes, we all know using historical content is a valuable way to monetise and drive subscriptions, but the structure of that content is what makes it useful.

The New Yorker, October 26, 1929

The New Yorker, October 26, 1929

What made looking at each issue of The New Yorker magazine valuable for me was context. I could look at the entire magazine, cover-to-cover, and see what was happening in New York in, say, October 1929. Including what advertisements were running at the time.

I remember as a child, newspapers used to reprint products such as The War Papers, the papers that came out during The Second World War, for people to collect. It is this contextual formatting that may still interest people, which can now be achieved, easily and cheaply, though online digitisation using companies such as Realview Technologies, the company that worked with The New Yorker.

Certainly, historical content is something that can be offered to subscribers as an exclusive benefit.

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How will the future of publishing look?

I was thinking more about the future of monetising media content, both through current online products and soon-to-be mobile devices. There’s been a lot of talk in the publishing industry recently about specialist and niche titles being forced to look for subscription revenue as they are finding it harder to compete in the retail market with larger consumer magazine titles.

These specialist magazines are forced off the newsstands by agents modeling themselves after FMCG retailers  that maximise return per square metre and charge for prime retail positions. Chasing subscriptions and subscription revenue seems the obvious route to take.

But consumers are chasing content from many sources, increasingly it is free, backed by advertising. They are developing deep and sophisticated relationships with digital devices that deliver information to their fingertips whenever they want it, B2B and consumer – mobile charges will be the major barrier to consumption. What benefit are consumers gaining from magazines, nowadays? This is the question magazine publishers should ask themselves. Portability? Quality of reading format? The nostalgic feel of paper?

I don’t believe it will be long before electronic paper – truly flexible, full colour, electronic paper as being  trialled by Fujitsu and Philips – deployed in a next-generation Kindle-type device, will turn the business models of the publishing market upside down. A flexible, large-format, mobile device that is web-connected, drives down the value of subscriptions as access to quality content moves towards Free.

If the only reason you are gaining revenue from subscriptions is because of the magazine format, then the lifespan of this revenue source is coming to an end. Charging for high-end, quality content is already being challenged: Business Spectator (free) vs Financial Review (subscription).

What content would I pay for? Important timely business information that I don’t want influenced in any way by advertising. And these types of subscription businesses are continuing to perform strongly in the face of free online information. Some examples are legal, accounting, some financial information.

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Australia Post invests in more subscriptions

I attended a breakfast this morning hosted by Australia Post. They have brought out Alan Weaver from the United Kingdom to talk to magazine publishers about selling more subscriptions, more effectively and, of course, retaining current subscribers.

Australia Post also launched its new quarterly magazine, Subscribe, at the breakfast. Subscribe aims to help the publishing industry “understand the key factors in subscription profitability, including renewals, maximising subscriber value, and online subscription marketing. We will also take a look a close look at modelling and analytical techniques,” says editor Gary M Lane in his Welcome Letter in the first issue. At the breakfast, Weaver presented on subscription excellence to a packed house of magazine subscriptions specialists at Jones Bay Wharf. He then sat on a panel with Alan Sarkissian, executive director, Publishers Australia; Bruna Rodwell, subscriptions consultant and Gary M Lane, editor, Subscribe magazine.

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Can online advertising survive the GFC?

Two major reports have come out recently delivering positive feedback for the online advertising market.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Frost & Sullivan have forecast that the online advertising industry will see revenues continue to increase as advertisers turn to cost effective strategies as marketing budgets tighten and a media buyers place a rigorous focus on ROI.

Figures from the IAB’s latest Online Advertising Expenditure Report by Pricewaterhouseshow that online advertising had experienced 30% growth, year-on-year, with a total spend of $450 million in the third quarter of this year. Of course, this growth is expected to soften during the fourth quarter as the full impact of the global economic meltdown comes into play.

Of the online advertising categories, Search and Directories advertising experienced the largest growth from the prior quarter, growing at $25.0m or 13.4%. General Display advertising also performed well, growing $11m or 9.6% from the previous quarter. Online Classifieds, however, experienced minimal growth, with an increase of $2.75m or 2.5% from the previous quarter. This must be shaking a few business who are seeing the Classified advertisement that existed online transform into various forms of Search advertising.

Australia’s total online advertising market revenues have been forecasted to increase by 24 per cent year-on-year in 2008, growing from $387 million to $481.4 million, by Frost & Sullivan.

Darryl Nelson, Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Manager, Digital Media, Asia Pacific, said:

The online general advertising market continues to enjoy solid growth and is not only well-placed to weather the current slowdown in overall media budgets but is set to benefit from its increasing cost-effectiveness in tight economic conditions.

Advertisers continue to see the increased lead generation and sales coming from the online channel, but are also now looking online to get more bang for their brand marketing buck. The current tightening of marketing budgets overall strengthens their commitment to their digital strategies.

Download IAB PWC September 08 Online Advertising Report

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Updates are almost posts, aren’t they?

I’ve been updating a few posts recently, so I thought I’d summarise my efforts here:

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