Tag: print

Print is still growing in Africa

GroupM, WPP’s world-leading global media investment group launched the Africa Media Index: its inaugural study on the media landscape in Africa. The study aims to provide insights on trends and knowledge of the media sector and how it affects investment, governance, local business and economies.

This study comprises data from 14 African countries, namely: Ivory Coast; Ghana; Nigeria; Kenya; South Africa; Uganda; Zambia; Namibia; Zimbabwe; Tanzania; Mozambique; Botswana; Angola and Ethiopia. It identifies trends that are relevant to industry investors looking to increase their footprint and reach multiple audiences in a meaningful way across Africa. The report focuses on five key categories which are Economy & Business; Media Landscape; Media Consumers; Technology; as well as Governance & Legislation.

Federico De Nardis, CEO at GroupM Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), says, “Many companies – both those already on the continent and those wishing to reach consumers and businesses across Africa – often struggle to find consistent and reliable information which gives a clear understanding of the media landscape. The intention of the Africa Media Index is to bridge that gap.”

Africa’s media landscape is a whirlwind of change and growth in activity, and its power can be harnessed by knowledgeable investors. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts 17% of the world population today, but only represents 2% of world GDP, and even less when we look at advertising investment, which is USD 2.6 billion or 0.47% of global investments. However, due to mobile and Internet expansion, strong urbanisation and a booming middle class, the next 30 years should tell a very different story.

The media consumers and media landscape
While the African middle class population is growing impressively, so is their access to technology and media consumption. This is demonstrated through the rising sales of televisions, which now replace radio as a preferred purchase option in places where electricity supply is increasingly available.
Access to the internet also accounts for a large growth in the media landscape, however, internet use is restricted by high data prices in various regions. More than 83% of respondents believe online media is growing significantly, while 75% of them think radio, through internet broadcasting is on a high trajectory. However, the same respondents are also bullish on television, with nearly 62% of positive growth.
In addition, print media is experiencing positive growth, contrary to what is happening in the rest of the world. For example, in Kenya newspaper consumption has grown by 14% in 2018 versus the previous year and 12% in Nigeria according to ‘This Year Next Year’ report, by GroupM Global.

Governance and legislation
Media growth in Africa is beneficial and a contributing factor to deepening democratic processes. In recent years, political uncertainty dominated the business headlines where heightened political tensions saw a military coup in Zimbabwe, a widely disputed election in Kenya, and highly contested elections in South Africa and Nigeria. These might appear as isolated events but they are an amalgam of events that increased media interest in Africa.
Of the surveyed respondents, 49% of East Africans and over 36% Southern Africans think media corruption is “highly prevalent”, while 41% West Africans say the media is hopelessly corrupt. Corrupt state media, bribe taking journalists and self-censorship by the independent press were cited as examples of corruption.
As a result, the risk impact of changes in legislation and regulation has increased considerably as many African governments continue to implement laws governing information and ethical operations of businesses.

Economy and business
When investors seek media investment opportunities, a holistic knowledge of the investment environment is required, including the relevant forces at play in governance, local business and economies that affect the media sector. The sector is influenced by the society it services, and in turn the media influences the societies that hear, read and see its output.
Investment indicators, as opposed to business confidence, for Southern Africa are good overall. Leading in this is South Africa with an overall score of 65.97, which takes three of the top five positions in overall Economy and Business rankings. However Ghana (51.65), and Kenya (47.67), being in the top five, reflects a mixed regional picture. Meanwhile at the lowest of the spectrum on the continent is Mozambique, whose overall score is 34.89.

Technology advancements
One of the biggest challenges for African governments and media houses will be to close the media access gap between urban and rural areas. If this is left unattended, there is an increased risk of widening inequality between those who have access to a plethora of innovative and rich media options (TV and video in all forms: Linear, VOD, SVOD, OTT and all online platforms) and those who are not exposed to it.

Electricity is a necessity for new media expansion for all regions, and West Africa is seen prioritising urbanisation more than others. Southern Africa is viewed as prioritising fibre lines according to 17.66% of respondents, particularly with the South Atlantic Cable System arriving in the region. These respondents have however reported the highest data prices, with three quarters classifying prices as expensive and 33% say data is somewhat expensive, however 40% of them say it is very expensive.

“The 21st century new media wave has been driven by the African people as they are choosing preferred mediums and content. Investors in Africa’s media industries can be assured that African media consumers are the same as media consumers in other markets who are perpetually craving better media services that are interactive and advertising that is created to each market’s unique nuances,” concludes De Nardis.

Over the past few years much has been said about the demise of print and the perception that the traditional printed word is no longer the force it used to be. However, it seems that we may be coming full circle as once again the written word is being used to entertain, promote and educate.

This is particularly evident when companies that are primarily focussed on visual media are opting to make use of published media. Take Netflix for example, the streaming service is using a tactic far removed from the nature of its service to make the best of its movies and TV series stand out. Netflix has announced that it will be publishing its own magazine to, called Wide, to promote their own stars and programmes ahead of the 2019 Emmy Awards. The first issue of Wide is set to launch in June this year.

“As the world of publishing is constantly evolving, we are seeing more innovative uses of the written word to encourage more reading,” says Josephine Buys, CEO at The Publisher Research Council (PRC). “These examples are by no means a once off, but rather a demonstration of the power of reading matter.”

A prime example of encouraging more reading takes place in London where tube commuters are able to read short stories, printed on eco-friendly paper and dispensed free by vending machines installed at Canary Wharf. Author of the short stories, Anthony Horowitz, notes: “What appealed to me was that I travel on the tube every single day and I see everybody buried in apps and games.” These same vending machines have also been installed in locations across France, in Hong Kong and the US.

“The written word provides a depth that is extremely difficult to replicate on other media platforms,” says Buys. “The Publisher Research Council has made great strides in conducting research that promotes the value of reading versus listening, viewing or glancing.”

Many global studies reaffirm this with statistics proving time and time again that time spent with print media is more focused. A Newsworks survey, conducted by PwC discovered that for 60% and 58% of the time spent reading newspapers and magazines respectively, readers are focussed solely on that medium, concluding that a trusted medium, that people choose to pay attention to is more important than ever. *

Insights from the South African Establishment Survey (ES) show that people who read earn more than their non-reading counterparts, across the entire spectrum of society. According to the ES only half of South Africans read newspapers and magazines monthly. However, this percentage grows the higher one moves up the SEM (Socio-Economic Measure) scale. In SEM SuperGroup (SG) 5, the top 10% of the population, 77% read. This same SG also has the highest household income, demonstrating that reading is the key to success and a better life. **

Anyone who has ever studied for an exam or test, knows that reading is the best way to learn, and that the longer one studies the more familiar one becomes with the course material. Reading media, whether newspapers, magazines or online provides a depth of information unlike any other media. The ability to put it down, pick it up and assimilate information at your own pace is all too often overlooked.

“The PRC’s online library is a rich repository of information that marketers, advertisers and media agencies can draw from,” concludes Buys.

Source: IOL

Embattled Tiso Blackstar has announced that it intends to close its Sunday World tabloid as revenue plummets and workers continue to strike.

Managing director Andy Gill yesterday sent out an internal communication to staff informing them that Sunday World employees had been notified about the company’s intentions.

Tiso Blackstar owns the Sunday Times, Financial Mail, Sowetan and Business Day, among other titles.

The company also shut down the print edition of The Times in 2017.

Gill said the company was “proposing a broad restructuring of its editorial operations as a result of the economic headwinds facing the business”.

He blamed looming job cuts and possible closure of the Sunday World on poor revenue.

Tiso Blackstar has also issued Section 189a notices to the editorial staff of the Sowetan, Daily Dispatch and The Herald, and editorial production staff in the business media stream.

“We are aware that the current situation is difficult, especially for those affected by restructuring, but it is important to consider the alternative future if we do not act now – one in which further title closures and widespread job losses become inevitable,” Gill said.

SA National Editors’ Forum chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase expressed concern over the looming job losses.

“The retrenchments come at a time when the industry has been shedding jobs at an alarming rate, which is very concerning.

“Newsrooms are becoming smaller, and that will always have an impact on the quality of journalism and diversity in the media,” she said.

The announcement comes at a time when some employees were on a strike which started last week after negotiations over pay, lack of bonuses and working conditions for journalists collapsed.

Yesterday, the employees picketed outside the group’s offices at The Hill on Empire Road in Johannesburg.

By Gerry Smith for Bloomberg 

Tech giants like Google and Facebook are threatening the media business by capturing a growing share of advertising dollars.

Yet many of those companies, which made fortunes selling highly targeted online ads, have become big buyers of a decidedly low-tech medium: print advertising.

“If you look now at companies like Netflix and Google, we’re seeing our biggest print advertisers now tend to be these digitally native companies that want to announce something to the world,” New York Times Chief Operating Officer Meredith Kopit Levien said Monday at an investor conference. “So there’s irony in that.”

Despite the shifting media landscape, it’s still hard to match the prestige of the Gray Lady, Levien said.

“There are things that an ad in the New York Times does for a marketer that there isn’t another vehicle,” she said.

The Trade Desk, an online ad marketplace, bought ads in both the New York Times and News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal in September. But the tech company poked fun at its own campaign.

“Possibly the worst ad we’ll ever run,” the company said in the announcement. It then plugged its own “more targeted, data-driven approach” to buying ads.

For the Times, Silicon Valley ad campaigns may not be enough to revive the print business, which has been shrinking for years as readers move online. But it has helped stem some of the bleeding.

The Times’ print advertising revenue was roughly flat last quarter, after falling about 12% in the second quarter and 2% in the first quarter. The growth of digital subscriptions, meanwhile, has helped make investors more confident about the 167-year-old business. The stock is up 45% this year.

My Office magazine is moving into the digital age, leaving print media behind in favour of an online platform.

As of May 2017, My Office will no longer be a print magazine. Exciting times lie ahead as we keep abreast of technology.

Digital media is the new frontier as the number of Internet users crest 3,42-billion – 46% of the global population. In South Africa, spend on the consumption of digital media is expected to rise to 49,6% in 2019, ensuring digital revenues will account for the majority of market share as early as 2020.

shop-sa chairman Hans Servas has issued the following announcement:

Times are a changin’
The board of shop-sa and the publishers of My Office magazine, IT-Online, have decided that the time has come to take the bold step and move into the Digital Age.

It was agreed that the print version of the My Office magazine can no longer keep up with the fast-paced information and technology age.
Needless to say that cost of print, distribution issues and revenue, played a part in the decision.

The final edition of My Office will be published in April 2017, after almost a century of serving the stationery and office products industry.

The exiting news is that from May 2017, a digital version/combination of the already successful My Office newsletter and a revamped Web-site will be launched.

Members and the industry at large will be able to access news, product information, forthcoming events and much more, instantly and continuously.

Advertisers will have ample opportunity to market their brands and products via this exiting medium.

After all, 3,4-billion users globally can’t be wrong!

Here is to the next 100 years!

Hans Servas



ABC: print on the decline

The ABC 4th Quarter 2016 results, released via webinar for the first time, show that the total number of products and titles reported on for the ABC 4th quarter 2016 has increased to 982 from 854 in 2015.

This rise in members is due to the introduction of a new category, digital products, early in 2016, so despite this good news, the decline in print product circulation continues, with this quarter also showing a decline in free newspapers – the first time this category dipped.

2016 was a volatile year for the ABC, with magazine and newspaper products declining from 507 to 478 and 347 to 336 respectively. The organisation gained 20 new newspaper members but lost 31, while losing 52 magazine titles and gaining 23. However, again the new digital section played a role here with a combined number of 168, of which 49 are newsletters and 119 websites.

However, the print product losses incurred continued across the board. The press overview reflects a decline close on three percent (2.9%) compared to the 3rd quarter 2016 (Q3) results and by 4.6% over the prior year, while the magazine overview shows a 4.3% decline over Q3, and a decline of 3% over the prior year.


All press – dailies, weeklies, weekend and local, including free, as mentioned previously –showed a decline in Q3 and over the prior year.

The daily press all reflect a decline of 2.7% in Q3 and a 12.6% decline over the prior year. The Sowetan, Business Day and Herald all showed declines.

The weekly press also shows a 6.4% decline over Q3 as well as the prior year. Soccer Laduma loses almost 10% while the M&G increases in Q3 (11.3%) but declines year-on-year (3.5%).

As with the dailies press, the weekend press reflects a decline, with a 2.8% decline over Q3, and 11.6% over the prior year. The positive here is the Saturday Dispatch, which increased by 4.7% over Q3. Decreasing in circulation are the Sunday Tribune, ilanga Langesonto, Weekend Argus, Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo, and Sunday World.

The local press sees a 2.8% decline over Q3, and 7.1% over the prior year. In the local press the declines were as high was 31% while the Mid South Coast Mail bucked the trend by increasing by 5%, and the Paarl Post also up by 4.4% over the prior year

The free press reflects a 2.6% decline over Q3 and 11.6% over the prior year.


As with newspapers, free magazines also declined, decreasing by 20% over Q3, and by 3.2% over the prior year. It must be noted that three publications resigned during this period. In this category, single copy sales show a slight increase, which is quite positive.

While increasing on Q3 by 2.5%, consumer magazines decrease by 2.5% over Q3 and 12.5% year-on-year. Despite showing a decline of 5.2% over Q3, custom magazines now show an increase of 2.6% over the prior year.

The best performers in magazines are from the B2B category. Apart from the B2B magazines and Landrover Africa, the other movers include True Love, The Big Issue, SA Rugby, Car Magazine, Popular Mechanics and Leisure Wheels, all of which see increased circulation figures.

Declining figures are reported for Real Estate, Sarie Kos and House and Leisure in consumer magazines – home, which also declines by 1% over Q3 and 15.8% over the prior year. This is mainly the result of discontinued titles.

Overall the consumer magazines – motoring declined (with Autotrader Exclusive, Bike SA and SA 4X4 showing declines), as did the consumer travel category.

The consumer magazines – sports and hobbies category had an increase of 6.7% over Q3 and 2.5% over the prior year, mainly the result of new members.

While consumer magazines – women’s general increased on Q3 (1%), they decreased year-on-year (17.9%). This is again the result of discontinued titles. Women & House, while increasing on Q3, showed a decline over the prior year. Essentials declined in both, as did Essays of Africa.

The big change in custom magazines – entertainment, saw the category increase by 2.7% over Q3, but decrease by 4.5% over the prior year. Custom magazines – leisure change considerably as a result of Fresh Living changing to a free model, which represents 56% of the category. Slow magazine declines by 36.3% over Q3 and 2.3% over the prior year (PDF Replica). Good Taste is up 13% on Q2 (this is a six-monthly submission). As a result of a discontinued title the custom magazine – retail declined by 10.2% (Q3) and 11.8% year-on-year. Some titles in this category showed a very good performance.

In the B2B category, one title resigned. SA Roofing and Timber both decrease. The management category saw SA News increase by over 30%.

The new category digital has no comparative numbers. For website, there are 119 members with 690,459 unique browsers and 65,496,359 page impressions. For email newsletters, there are 49 members with 1,212,118 total net delivery.

The ABCs for the 4th quarter 2016 were presented by Charles Beiles, general manager of the ABC via a webinar.

New dynamic reports

This is the first time the results have been presented via a webinar. Andre van Tonder, president of the ABC, explains that the initiative was chosen in order to broaden the reach of the ABC to include everyone and not only the major cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. “This medium not only allows everyone to participate, but it also modernises and improves the service we offer our member.”

A new initiative, dynamic reports, has also been introduced. This allows for the retrieval of data in different formats, including:
Publisher reports, including: circulation by publisher, sector, category for any period; circulation by publisher, sector, class for any period; trend analysis by publisher; and publisher market share analysis.
Title reports include: circulation by title, sector, category, class for any period and trend analysis by title.
Global reports include: trend analysis by sector, category, class.
These are only available to members and the ABC will create additional reports depending on members’ requirements.

By Danette Breitenbach for www.bizcommunity.co.za

Americans today have an enormous variety of content available to them at any time of day, and this material is available in a number of formats and through a range of digitally connected devices. Yet even as the number of ways people spend their time has expanded, a Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012.

And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).

But while print remains at the center of the book-reading landscape as a whole, there has been a distinct shift in the e-book landscape over the last five years. Americans increasingly turn to multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet computers – rather than dedicated e-readers – when they engage with e-book content. The share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time, while the share reading on e-book reading devices has not changed. And smartphones are playing an especially prominent role in the e-reading habits of certain demographic groups, such as non-whites and those who have not attended college.

These are among the main findings of a nationally representative telephone survey of 1 520 American adults conducted between 7 March and 4 April 2016.

The share of Americans who have read a book in the last year is largely unchanged since 2012; more Americans read print books than either read e-books or listen to audio books

Following a slight overall decline in book readership between 2011 and 2012, the share of American adults who read books in any format has remained largely unchanged over the last four years. Some 73% of Americans report that they have read at least one book in the last year. That is nearly identical to the 74% who reported doing so in a survey conducted in 2012, although lower than the 79% who reported doing so in 2011.

Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read 4 books in the last 12 months. Each of these figures is largely unchanged since 2011, when Pew Research Center first began conducting surveys of Americans’ book reading habits.

Readers today can access books in several common digital formats, but print books remain substantially more popular than either e-books or audio books. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) have read a print book in the last year, which is identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012 (although down slightly from the 71% who reported reading a print book in 2011).

By contrast, 28% of Americans have read an e-book – and 14% have listened to an audio book – in the last year. In addition to being less popular than print books overall, the share of Americans who read e-books or listen to audio books has remained fairly stable in recent years.

E-book readership increased by 11-percentage points between 2011 and 2014 (from 17% to 28%) but has seen no change in the last two years. Similarly, the share of American adults who listen to audio books has changed only marginally since Pew Research Center first asked about this topic in 2011 – at that point, 11% of Americans had listened to an audio book in the last year, compared with 14% now.

Nearly four-in-ten Americans read print books exclusively; just 6% are digital-only book readers

In total, 34% of Americans have either read an e-book or listened to an audio book in the last year, but relatively few Americans read books in these digital formats to the exclusion of print books.

More than one-quarter (28%) of Americans read books in both print and digital formats (which includes e-books and audio books). Some 38% read print books but did not read books in any digital formats, while just 6% read digital books but not print books.

Relatively few Americans are “digital-only” book readers regardless of their demographic characteristics. However, some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format. For instance, 7% of college graduates are digital-only book readers (compared with just 3% of those who have not graduated from high school), as are 8% of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (compared with 3% of Americans with incomes of $30,000 or less). Interestingly, young adults are no more likely than older adults to be “digital-only” book readers: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books in digital formats only, compared with 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those 50 and older.

College graduates are roughly four times as likely to read e-books ­ and about twice as likely to read print books and audio books – compared with those who have not graduated high school

As was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys on book reading, certain groups of Americans read at relatively high rates and in a wide variety of formats.

These include:

  • College graduates – Compared with those who have not attended college, college graduates are more likely to read books in general, more likely to read print books, and more likely to consume digital-book content. The typical (median) college graduate has read seven books in the last year.
  • Young adults – 80% of 18- to 29-year-olds have read a book in the last year, compared with 67% of those 65 and older. These young adults are more likely than their elders to read books in various digital formats, but are also more likely to read print books as well: 72% have read a print book in the last year, compared with 61% of seniors.1
  • Women – Women are more likely than men to read books in general and also more likely to read print books. However, men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books such as e-books and audio books.

The share of Americans who read books on tablets or cellphones has increased substantially since 2011, while the share using dedicated e-readers has remained stable

Tablet computer and smartphone ownership have each increased dramatically in recent years, and a growing share of Americans are using these multipurpose mobile devices – rather than dedicated e-readers – to read books. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Americans who read books on tablet computers has increased nearly fourfold (from 4% to 15%), while the share who read books on smartphones has more than doubled (from 5% to 13%). The share of Americans who read books on desktop or laptop computers has also increased, although by a more modest amount: 11% of Americans now do this, up from 7% in 2011.

By contrast, 8% of Americans now report that they read books using dedicated e-reader devices – nearly identical to the 7% who reported doing so in 2011.

About one-in-five Americans under the age of 50 have used a cellphone to read e-books; blacks and Americans who have not attended college are especially likely to turn to cellphone – rather than other digital devices – when reading e-books

Previous Pew Research Center studies have documented how several groups – such as blacks and Latinos, and those who have not attended college – tend to rely heavily on smartphones for online access. And in the context of book reading, members of these groups are especially likely to turn to smartphones – rather than tablets or other types of digital devices – when they engage with e-book content.

For instance, 16% of blacks report that they use their cellphones to read books. That is nearly double the share of blacks who read books on traditional computers (9%) and four times the share who read books using dedicated e-readers (4%). Hispanics are less likely than blacks as a whole to read books on cellphones (11% do so), but Hispanics are also substantially more likely to read books on cellphones than on e-readers or traditional computers. By contrast, whites tend to turn to a range of digital devices when reading e-books: 13% read e-books on cellphones, but 18% read e-books on tablet computers, 10% use e-book readers and 11% engage with e-book content on desktop or laptop computers.

Cellphones also play a relatively prominent role in the reading habits of Americans who have not attended college. College graduates are far more likely than those with high school diplomas or less to read books on tablets (25% vs. 7%), e-book readers (15% vs. 3%) or traditional computers (15% vs. 6%). But these differences are much less pronounced when it comes to reading books on cellphones. Some 17% of college graduates read books this way, compared with 11% of those with high school diplomas or less – just a 6-percentage point difference.

Along with these groups, Americans under the age of 50 are especially likely to consume e-book content on cell phones: one-in-five (19%) do so, compared with 9% of 50- to 64-year-olds and just 4% of those 65 and older.

The share of Americans who read in order to research a specific topic of interest has increased in recent years

In addition to asking whether – and on what devices – Americans read books specifically, the survey also included a broader set of questions asking about reasons that people might read written content of any kind (including books, but also magazines, newspapers or online content).

Among all American adults:

  • 84% ever read to research specific topics of interest (29% do so nearly every day).
  • 82% read to keep up with current events (47% nearly every day).
  • 80% read for pleasure (35% nearly every day).
  • 57% read for work or school (31% do so nearly every day).

A similar share of Americans report that they read for pleasure, for work or school, or to keep up with current events compared to the most recent time these questions were asked in 2011. However, the share of Americans who read in order to research specific topics of interest has increased by 10-percentage points over that time frame, from 74% to 84%.

Older and younger adults are equally likely to read for pleasure or to keep up with current events; younger adults are more likely to read for work or school, or to research a topic of interest

In some cases, the factors associated with high rates of book readership are the same ones associated with reading for specific purposes. For instance, college graduates are more likely than those who have only attended high school to read books in general – and they are also more likely to read for all four of the specific motivations examined in this survey.

At the same time, there is not always such a direct relationship between book reading and overall reading for specific purposes. As noted earlier in this report, young adults are more likely to read books than older adults. And when asked about specific reasons why they might read a range of content, these young adults are much more likely than older adults to say that they read for work or school, or to research a specific topic of interest. However, Americans of all ages are equally likely to indicate that they read (whether in book form or otherwise) for pleasure or to keep up with current events.

By Andrew Perrin for www.pewinternet.org

Walking into his office at The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, you are met by mountainous stacks of magazines on all sides. After your eyes adjust, one finds Dr Samir Husni, aka “Mr. Magazine”, sitting at his desk amid the magazine titles piled high.

Husni directs the Magazine Innovation Centre at Ole Miss’ School of Journalism, where is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer. He wrote for 28 years the annual Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines. He started a news series of books called Inside the Great Minds of Magazine Makers. He is also the author of several books including Magazine Publishing in the 21st Century, Launch Your Own Magazine: A Guide for Succeeding in Today’s Marketplace and Selling Content: The Step-by-Step Art of Packaging Your Own Magazine.

He has presented seminars on trends in American magazines to the editorial, advertising and sales staff of many magazine groups including Hearst Corp., Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Meredith Corp., Reader’s Digest Magazine, ESPN the magazine, the National Geographic Society, the Swedish magazine group Bonnier, the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association and the American Press Institute. He is also President and CEO of Magazine Consulting & Research, a firm specializing in new magazine launches, repositioning of established magazines, and packaging publications for better sales and presentations.

Paul Glader: We live in a tech age where customer service and user interface can be so good with applications like Uber or AirBnB. But almost every single magazine I subscribe to – whether it’s The New Yorker, The Atlantic, or whatever – I can’t get a bloody receipt! I have to call the magazines and they use outsourced services. I can’t get an online receipt from them. And even though I’m a loyal, loyal customer, they don’t treat me like one. As soon as I order a subscription from The New Yorker, I start getting mail from them saying my subscription is going to run out. No! Wait a minute! I just bought a 3-year subscription. It’s not going to run out! Don’t you know me? Why don’t magazines care about their customers more?

Samir Husni: If you really think about it, we are the only business that caters much, much more to the marginal customer and we ignore the loyal customer… I mean, you get offers “Oh, get the whole year plus a swimsuit! For $5.00.”

Glader: And a tote bag.

Husni: Then you start buying the magazine, and you’re enjoying it. They send you a renewal for like, $29.95. You know, I don’t become a Diamond frequent flyer mile on Delta just because I flew one time. No, it’s because I fly always on Delta. Because they reward those people and they upgrade me. They put me in first class. They treat me like somebody who’s loyal to them. We in the magazine business are the only industry that does its best to cater to the marginal customers for one simple reason: … In the United States, in the magazine business, we are always after counting customers rather than customers who count. Unless we change the business model to customers who count, somebody who’s willing to appreciate, ‘Wow, this is the New Yorker, I’m going to pay like, $8 for the cover price.’ But then as I am opening it, the card drops on the floor and says ‘You stupid Samir, for another $20, you can get the whole year.’ Why would I buy it from the newsstand? I am insulting myself… It’s not tied to any cost point. It’s about numbers.

Glader: And advertisers?

Husni: And they cannot get it into their heads by now that counting customers no longer counts, that our business model has to be reinvented and we have to make as much money from customers as we make from advertisers. First we thought the tablet is salvation. Well, last time I was in New York last year, everybody was saying the tablet is dead. The homepage is dead. It took us 550 years before anybody said that print is dead. The tablet is less than six years old, and now we’re saying the tablet is dead? The homepage is dead? I mean, nothing “dies” forever. Nothing stays forever. When a magazine dies, it does not mean the industry’s dead. How many television programs have come and gone; good ones?

Glader: All these magazines have come and gone too, right? Like the late great Saturday Evening Post?

Husni: The Post is still there. The Post is one of the best kept secrets in the industry. They’re still publishing. But, the sad part is, I blame the media. I blame the journalists. The media reporters look at their own publications. If you’re working at AdWeek or if you’re working at those magazines that used to be big, thick publications, and all the advertising disappeared from them, they are now like a 36-page little tiny thing… They look through that prism and they judge the entire [magazine] industry based on that. When in reality if people are willing to take the time and dig and look and stuff, we’re having almost 1,000 new magazines coming into the marketplace every year. But those magazines have an average cover price of between $8.50 and $10.50 now.

Glader: So where are the bright spots right now in magazines? Internationally or in certain sectors in the U.S.?

Husni: In Europe… they are not picking up yet. They are still struggling… Last year, every major publisher in this country published a new magazine, a print magazine. Whether it’s Hearst, Conde Nast, Time Inc. or Rodale. And of course now everyone is doing those book-azines. I mean, Time is flooding the market with book-azines. Conde Nast is flooding the market with book-azines. Everybody is subscribing to the aspect of “I can’t change my business model, but I can produce something new and charge $12, $13.” You know, that is doing very well… One magazine does not work, so they kill it, like they did with Ladies Home Journal, or they changed the frequency. But then, on the other hand, they are investing in Martha Stewart Living, they are investing in All Recipes. Hearst has done such a great job in enhancing the quality of print. They increased the paperweight. They upsized all the magazines. I mean, just last month alone Marie Claire and Elle went to a bigger European size. Vogue is testing the new bigger size of Vogue this month. So there’s a lot of good things. Last year was actually the year we buried the phrase “print is dead.” Nobody is saying “print is dead anymore.” You’d have to be out of your mind to say “print is dead…” And you know, you hear now phrases like “print is changing”. Of course. Change is the only constant in our business. I mean, why would print not change?

Glader: Well, are we not moving into a world too, where artisanal brands from places like Brooklyn, Berlin also influences media and magazine consumption? People are looking for the beautiful artefact, right? We may see less of print, but it never dies because it’s still more beautiful than anything digital?

Husni: Yeah. As long as we have human beings, we appreciate the touch, the feel, the history. I mean, even our own history. Can you imagine, I mean, now, I still have letters from my dad, God rest his soul, that I show to my kids and say, “look what dad wrote me when I first came to America.” What do my kids have? E-mails? Text messages? What are they going to show their kids? “Oh, look your grandpa sent us a text message!”

Glader: Do they inherit your Facebook page?

Husni: Digital does not keep the heritage going… I mean, can you imagine? Can you imagine if the shepherds found the Dead Sea Scrolls on a CD? A jump drive? They would have thought they were Frisbees or something. So, I mean, there is an inherited value in print, and that’s why I say the problem is not with print. That has been my biggest problem with newspapers. I mean the word “newspaper” is an oxymoron. And I tell people, like, you know, why can’t a newspaper be a 48-hour bridge between what happened yesterday and how is it going to impact me tomorrow. You can’t just be telling me on Sunday that the Broncos won the Super Bowl. I knew that at 9:20 p.m., or like tornadoes killed 70 people in Texas. I knew that as the tornado was taking place. I mean, we have to be more in the business of what’s in it for me rather than the “five Ws” and the H.”

Glader: Hmm. Interesting. It’s tough for journalists to break out of that model.

Husni: It’s all about me. It’s all about the audience. And that’s what we have to do.

Glader: In my Entrepreneurial Journalism class our mantras include, “What problem are you solving for your readers? What are the needs your audience has and how will you meet those needs?” That’s how you build an audience.

Husni: Check out this magazine. It’s $40 bucks. Let’s Panic. It’s their second issue. I mean, you have to do stuff. Too many magazines are dull. You cannot produce print today that has that disposability factor in it, because then it’s not going to last.

Glader: Yeah. Which companies or titles are you watching right now and think are doing really cool stuff?

Husni: Hearst and Bauer, to me, the gold standard. Hearst, Meredith, Time Inc. and, lately, Conde Nast.

Glader: What are some examples of titles that you like from those companies?

Husni: Hearst for example, when they launched the Food Network magazine, they launched it right after Conde Nast killed Gourmet, almost the same month. And because they, the geniuses at the consulting firm, they shall remain nameless, went to Conde Nast, and said “Oh, you have two food magazines, the economy cannot handle two,” so they killed Gourmet and kept Bon Appetite. Hearst launched the Food Network magazine in ‘09, right when the market completely crashed. The Food Network magazine is now almost 2 million in circulation. And then, two years later, they launched HGTV, and they got the same success. Three years later they launch Dr Oz: The Good Life. So Hearst has managed to create those partnerships with the TV shows, with the personalities, with the networks. So Hearst is doing very well. Meredith is also doing well. They relaunched Martha Stewart Living. They launched All Recipes. They took it from a website to a magazine that as millions in circulation. Meanwhile, companies like Time Inc. are flooding the market with bookazines, publishing around 150 titles a year.

Glader: I guess bookazines make sense, because they paid celebrity photographers to take photos Time now owns? So they can repackage and resell that content?

Husni: Time Inc. is doing the bookazines for Hearst. So you find a bookazine for Confessions From A Cosmopolitan and on the side it says it is a Time Inc. Publication.

Glader: Sounds like they’re adapting to American consumers too?

Husni: Bauer’s Woman’s World is the number one selling magazine on the newsstands. Also Bauer’s First for Woman is the number two selling magazine on the newsstand… There are bright areas if you are willing to look for bright areas. You put the blinders on your eyes and guess what? Everything you are going to see is going to be dark. And that’s what some of our media reporters do. That’s has always been one of my biggest complaints: that media reporters either have their angle formed, like that reporter that called me one time that she thinks that all women’s magazines are becoming so bad and they only care about sex and diet, what do you think? Well, you already told me what you think, why would you want my opinion? You already wrote this story. I mean, so, what you want somebody to tell you, oh yeah, I agree with you? And so, it’s really, I mean, if you are not excited and happy to be in the journalism world today, and specifically in the magazine world today, I don’t think there have ever been more exciting, intriguing times than we have today.

Glader: Why have food magazines become so hot? It seems like we have a greater interest in food-related TV shows as well?

Husni: Yeah, the whole TV shows. I mean, it was a combination of September 11th, where we, as a nation started cocooning inside. Then, in ‘08, the economy crashed so money became tight, and so you had the food magazines, the how to do food at home. Plus, you have the luxury of eating out and the combination of the two created a fertile ground for food magazines… I mean just if you want a magazine about church suppers, you can find one. You have a magazine I saw yesterday about, “one pot dinners.” All you need is one pot, not nine or 13 pans. I mean, you name the specialization and technology has made it possible, you don’t have to print millions of magazines anymore you can print a few thousand.

Glader: By the way, how did you get so obsessed with magazines?

Husni: Who would have believed my story, that this kid growing up in Tripoli, Lebanon, falling in love with magazines and becoming his passion, would become an expert on new magazines? I’m not even from the United States of America. I came from Lebanon. I either would have gone to be a dentist or to seminary school, because that’s what my parents wanted. They pushed me more toward being the dentist. They had a friend who was already a successful one, so they had me check out Hills Dental Design. Even tried to make me intern there. So all my high school education was scientific. I used to sit at home while other folks are playing and create my own little magazines. I used wax to rub on the paper so I can copy the images, then I rubbed the wax paper on the old newspapers. And a pastor who noticed this told me I would be disobeying God by obeying my parents and going to dental school instead of journalism school. He said, “I’m not telling you to disobey your parents, I’m just saying I’ve watched you and I’ve seen what you do is journalism.”

By Paul Glader for www.forbes.com

In a world where consumers are inundated by online requests and e-mail messages, printed communications really cut through the clutter and attract attention. Although some might think that tried-and-true marketing methods like direct mail and catalogues primarily appeal to Baby Boomers, InfoTrends’ research shows that even Millennials are responsive to these communications.

In late 2015, InfoTrends conducted a benchmark study entitled Direct Marketing Production Printing & Value-Added Services: A Strategy for Growth. This effort included an in-depth survey to uncover what the future holds for marketers, consumers, and direct mail printers. The findings from this survey were broken down by age demographic, and respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are considered Millennials for the purposes of this study.

After experiencing a decline in use, printed catalogues are now enjoying a resurgence. The reason for this is simple—catalogues still play a critical role in driving business. About 64% of U.S. consumers regularly or almost always read the catalogues that they received, and over a third read them occasionally.

Although all age groups reported a strong engagement with catalogues, older Millennials were particularly likely to read the catalogues that they received on a regular or very frequent basis.

Nearly three-quarters of Millennials who receive catalogues consider them to be useful tools for learning about products. Furthermore, over 92% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 used catalogues to learn and get ideas about things that interested them. The share of Millennials who felt this way was higher than it was for any other age group.

Catalogues are also a trigger for online and retail purchases. 79% of consumers reported visiting a retail store due to the products or promotions in a catalogue. This was especially true for younger Millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 (86%).

Even in today’s digital age, most Millennials are also receptive to direct mail. On average, Millennials throw out about 34% of direct mail pieces without reading them, but the flip side of this is that most direct mail items—66%—are at least glanced at. Over 81% of Millennials will take a minute or more to review direct mail if they find it interesting, and about 80% believe that direct mail can be an effective means of communication.

Based on InfoTrends’ research, customisation has a marked impact on consumer engagement. This was particularly the case for older Millennials—90% of these respondents were more likely to look at direct mail pieces that were customised or personalised to their interests.

In addition to personalisation, there are a number of other ways for marketers to ensure that their direct mail pieces are noticed and read. According to InfoTrends’ research:

Nearly 47% of total respondents reported that the quality of printing/paper had a major or moderate effect on the decision to open a direct mail piece. Respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 (57%) were the most likely to feel this way.

Nearly 49% of consumers stated that colour had a major or moderate effect on their decision to open a piece of direct mail. Older Millennials (59%) were the most likely to be influenced by colour.

Over 42% of consumers noted that the quality of printing/paper had a major or moderate effect on their decision to take an action after reading a piece of direct mail. Older Millennials (55%) were the most likely to feel this way.

When it comes to direct mail, older Millennials stand out as the group that is most influenced by the tactile experience of print.

InfoTrends’ research shows that even Millennials will respond to printed catalogues and direct mail. The key to success lies in ensuring that communications are relevant, personalised, and engaging.
By Eve Padula for blog.infotrends.com

Follow us on social media: 


View our magazine archives: 


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective