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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Doritos viral campaign that every advertiser should fear

I attended a social media breakfast this morning held by Bullseye digital sevices agency where Ian Farmer presented on his Social Media Action plan.

At the breakfast I caught up with Ian Lyons of PureProfile and The Cool Hunter who sent me the Doritos Banner Takeover viral video from YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, it is an eye-opener for publishers, advertising-network operators, advertisers and everybody else operating online – or thinking about transitioning their media business onto the interweb and using advertising as the revenue source. Yet another issue to consider. As Ian Lyons said, “here’s the video all publishers need to see”.

The only problem for Doritos, with all the viral traction they’re gaining from the immediate interest in this campaign, their website and download doesn’t seem to be up and running yet at onlythegoodstuff.com. Perhaps the video was leaked and escaped Doritos’ advertising camp too early?

Update: I was just doing some research on this campaign and found a reference in the Twitter Search logs from five months ago by @tbrunelle saying “thestuffyoulike.com offers a Doritos plugin that works as a banner blocker. An advertiser removes other advertisers.” Yet again, there is NO plug-in at www.thestuffyoulike.com – there is, however, a live site with print and outdoor ad samples as well as other basic campaign info, including the video. I will continue to investigate, all the way to Sweden, to get an answer on what is happening here. If anyone else knows, please let us in on the mystery with a comment below. Maybe this is part of the elaborate and fictitious Doritos SNACK STRONG Productions that involves an online game, Crash the Super Bowl campaign, UGC and more.

The Swedish agency is Papercut and notes that it has won several awards for the work already in 2008.

Update II: Well, as you can see from the links above, thestuffyoulike.com has been taken down, Onlythegoodstuff.com still doesn’t exist. However, it is most likely because the video was created by a couple of very talented Swedish students, Carl Frederick Jannerfeldt and Tomas Jonsson. I’m unclear how much or little of the work on the Papercut site is student work or client work, but it’s certainly worth having a look at for ideas and inspiration. Check out the lightart campaign for Maglite.

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