["Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history has
ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the Information
Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least as fast in the
same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not a greater one."
-Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005)]
by Lauren Indvik
Magazine publishers are rapidly getting serious about ecommerce.
Earlier this month, Time Out New York, a weekly print and digital
magazine covering entertainment in New York City, began selling event
tickets through its website and iOS apps. And last week, Time Inc.-owned
Real Simple magazine released a mobile gift guide that allows users to
shop directly from the app. The next day, Elle magazine launched a
shoppable trend guide on Facebook that encouraged users to make
purchases on advertisers’ websites.
These initiatives are enabling lifestyle magazines to explore new
revenue streams as their mainstay moneymaker, print advertising,
continues to decline.
It’s about time. Online retailers, as we’ve explored, have been
encroaching on magazines’ territory for years now. They’ve hired top
magazine talent – for instance, former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth
Reichl now directs editorial at Gilt Taste, and Esquire UK
editor-in-chief Jeremy Langmead is the editor of Mr Porter – and paired
them with retail veterans to develop a new kind of online shopping
experience, one that uses magazine-like editorials and photo spreads to
drive visitors to purchase.
At Gilt Taste, for example, a story and recipe for “perfectly tender
chicken” is sidelined with links to purchase Poussin Chickens, $55.95
for a set of eight. A “how to” fashion spread features items that are
two clicks from a shopping cart on Park & Bond.
These sites don’t come close to competing with lifestyle magazines in
terms of depth and breadth of content, but they are getting there. Men
could just as easily turn to Park & Bond or Mr Porter now for style
advice and inspiration as Esquire or Details – and finish their shopping
in one go.
Bridging the Editorial Divide
It’s been relatively easy for retailers to move into the content space,
particularly because they haven’t had to entertain illusions of
editorial objectivity. Editorial has from the beginning been posited as
a bonus on these sites, a complement to the shopping experience designed
to inspire and entertain shoppers.
Magazine publishers, on the other hand, have struggled to bridge this
divide. How do you maintain readers’ trust once you begin recommending
products for which you receive a cut of every sale? Or, in the case of
Time Out New York, if you become a retailer yourself?
The trick, it appears, is to position it as a service. Vogue partnered
with retailer Moda Operandi during New York Fashion Week last September
to “enable” readers to pre-order fashions directly from the runway – a
partnership that came about through the magazine’s close relationship
with Moda’s executive team. (Cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo is also a
contributing editor at Vogue.)
Real Simple’s gift guide is positioned similarly. The app features about
50 products from a range of retailers. Instead of sending users to
third-party websites to make multiple purchases – which is what the vast
majority of magazines do with the products mentioned on their websites
or on their apps – users shop and check out directly from the app in one
seamless, time-efficient experience.
“We’re cutting the effort of having to hunt down the products [we
recommend],” Real Simple editor-in-chief Kathleen Harris said in an
interview with Mashable. “We’re offering that service on top of our
Disclosures were also essential for Vogue and Real Simple, since both
receive(d) cuts of every sale.
Time Out New York’s approach is slightly different. The weekly
print-based publication has set up a ticket-selling shop as a separate
entity, which users can access from a sidebar on timeout.com/newyork.
All of these seem to me like promising approaches: They’ve been smartly
positioned, offering a range of merchandise without seeming to in any
way compromise editorial integrity. Now we’ll have to see whether
they’re profitable and how they evolve – and if they can move quickly
enough into the space to outperform their retail-and-content competitors
By Lucia Moses
As the number of digital reading devices has grown, publishers have
evolved to keep up. So, too, have the firms that audit them. Last year,
with ad buyers clamoring for more information about print audiences, the
Audit Bureau of Circulations launched a voluntary product called the
Consolidated Media Report that presents publications’ total brand
footprint across print and digital platforms.
So far, 30 or so newspapers have released Consolidated Media Reports.
Magazines have been slow to follow suit, but they’re starting to. On
April 30, The Economist will release a CMR, the second major title to do
so. (Popular Science released the first one last fall and parent Bonnier
Corp. is getting ready to release reports for three more titles, Field &
Stream, Outdoor Life and Popular Photography.)
The Economist has had a good print and digital story to tell, so it’s
not totally surprising that it’s one of the first to adopt this new
reporting format. It’s bucked the downward circulation trend, despite
its high price. (An annual print subscription averages $105.) And unlike
most magazines, it doesn’t give away its print content online.
In addition to the print circulation stats that are in every magazine’s
ABC Publisher’s Statement, The Economist’s CMR reveals that its digital
edition averaged about 48,000 in sales for March-about 6 percent of
total circulation, putting it at the high end of magazines. There were
255,000 readers. At $105 for an annual subscription, the digital edition
commands a premium as the print does.
Figures are for North America only. They refer to editions sold on the
iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle. They exclude The Economist’s replica
editions that are sold on the Kindle Fire and Nook Color and Zinio
“What we wanted to do in putting it out is have some transparency,” said
Paul Rossi, managing director and evp, Americas, for The Economist. “No
one is requiring them, but there is a lot of grumbling that [magazines]
aren’t transparent and we aren’t giving them the information the
Rossi shared other digital details not included in the report. He said
that 70 percent of The Economist’s digital subscribers are not former
print subscribers and that
20 percent of The Economist’s single copy sales are of back
issues-evidence that digital platforms are expanding rather than
cannibalizing the reader base.
“Digital is an opportunity for us, bringing more people in,” he said.
“We see absolutely that digital is additive.”