“Two years from now spam will be solved.”
Bill Gates, World Economic Forum, 2004
Though it seems like only five minutes ago I was asked to give my thoughts on what the big issues for the magazine industry would be in 2014, it’s already time to gaze into the crystal ball and set out what I think 2015 will deliver. Predictions, especially when put into print, are of course open to ridicule but hopefully I can avoid a Bill Gates moment.
As someone from the ‘boomer’ generation, it appears I must now bow out gracefully and hand centre-stage to that rather scary creature, the Millennial. Aged between 18-35 and making up about a quarter of the world’s population, they are now the power grouping that all marketers want to engage with. But they are a very different breed. They have never known a world without connectivity. They use social media rather than traditional news sources. They create their own content. They share. Clever media companies are working very, very hard to understand how to target this audience.
Every piece of research I’ve seen demonstrates the power of video content in engaging the consumer. Research from Forrester has calculated that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. It’s quite a claim, and to be fair whilst I haven’t looked at the minutiae of their methodology, it feels right. Studies have demonstrated that the consumer spends double the amount of time watching video content online (desktop or mobile devices) than they do in reading text online. Further studies have shown that video advertising generates four times the leads of non-video advertising. It explains why Meredith, Condé Nast, Hearst et al have created, one way or another, video production units, and why more and more magazine media companies will follow.
The launch of MPA’s 360° in the USA has changed the narrative regarding the health of the magazine media industry. This bold attempt to demonstrate the breadth of reach of a magazine brand beyond its traditional print base has generally been well received though is not without its critics. It’s a given that all audit methodologies have their own peculiarities, even those that claim to be measurable – what after all is the value of a ‘like’ or a ‘friend’ or even a ‘click’ – but they are discussions that will now see the end of the redundant ‘print is dead’ debate.
Axel Springer and the New York Times have both recently invested in Blendle, a Dutch based content kiosk whose micro-payment software enables individual articles to be bought by the consumer. Another sign that the paid content opportunity has moved on a notch. There will be more experimentation in this area.
Duncan Edwards, CEO of Hearst International, talked earlier this year about how the consumer’s expectations had changed and that editorial teams had to move their thinking from ‘months to moments’. This will have massive implications for the creation, curation and sharing of content for all magazine media brands and all the production processes that surround it. As he further said, “If you don’t have something new for your audience at 6am or 7am in the morning, you are out of the game. We are seeing extraordinary growth in our digital audiences as a result of that.” Think about that.
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