e-Publishing trends


presentations Recurring Theme: Print is not Dead

As with other DIA presentations, this topic continued to address an often-expressed concern: Print is Dead – Fact or Fiction?

E-Book technology is not new. The first commercially sold e-book was developed about 20 years ago with the Sony Data Discman. At the time it was going to change the world. It is, Seto told DIA listeners, the same story today. New technology gets introduced with great fanfare, excitement builds, press coverage proliferates, and the warning bells sound – get on board now or be left in the dust. But fear needs to be tempered with reason.

Seto showed the DIA audience some statistics from various sources demonstrating that print is not dead, it is just moving online. These statistics, said Seto, are supported by the fact that paper consumption is shrinking. In many applications technology has replaced paper distribution as a more efficient delivery method through less wastage. A significant example of this is household and business bills and statements. But, there are sectors where paper consumption is growing. Copy paper is one and paper for outdoor signage is another.

The Print Media

Unfortunately fear tactics are shaping attitudes toward print, especially for newspaper and magazine advertisers. But the numbers demonstrate that in the US, magazine advertising is currently a $20 billion market in the US and a $2 billion market in Canada – smaller than it was but still significant. Not all magazines have gone to tablets. In fact, the stats show that while circulation of many printed magazines is down, overall circulation continues to be solid. In Canada, Seto’s statistics showed DIA attendees that newspaper readership is actually up, though that is partly tied to population growth. Seto feels because of printed and digital editions, newspapers are evolving to become News Organizations. In summary, the numbers suggest that print and digital co-exist in the print media market. Actually, Seto believes that some of the publications experiencing financial difficulties are doing so because of bad management, not because of technology.

The community newspapers are growing and thriving, not only because of their targeted content but because they are a distribution vehicle for flyer advertising – still a proven desirable product – and another sector where paper consumption is not shrinking.

The Changing Digital Landscape

Over the past two years, said Seto, we have seen some dramatic changes. Communicators are rapidly adapting from desktop to emerging mobile devices such as phones, tablets and e-reading devices. Seto has reviewed many of the tablets. In his opinion, the Windows 8 Acer tablet will become the tablet for business. He suggested the DIA audience visit his blog on Masthead to find out why. Amazon now sells more e-books than printed books. Seto sees this as a tipping point. He shared statistical information that further demonstrated the vast market achieved through e-readers.

Social Media Integration

Social media is not a fad. It has become part of the changing marketing mix, part of the cross platform digital consumption. Seto told the DIA audience that in his view social media has become intrinsic to the new retail landscape. He further expanded on this by saying social media has increased the power of the consumer and has enabled companies to have a one-on-one relationship with their customers. But that relationship goes many steps further. Consumers can instantly post their retail experiences and share them with their friends – Social Media, the new word of mouth – great for positive experiences but a threat if experiences are negative.

Print is still in the game. It is still a strong part of today’s marketing mix – TV, radio and print integrated with websites for both desktop and mobile, YouTube, emails, and Facebook pages. The right message is delivered at the right time to the right place using a multi-platform distribution model.

But social media is having a negative impact on the expenditure of advertising dollars. Rather than taking an ad in a magazine, a company can advertise their product or service on their Facebook Fan Page at no cost beyond the development of an effective Fan Page.

The New Retail Landscape

How are people consuming knowledge and content? Seto challenged each person in the DIA audience to look outside their own sandbox.

Digital superstores for content are emerging –Apple, Android, Amazon, Kobo, Sony and Netflix. First generation digital magazine newsstands are being overpowered by these new stores—Zinio, Magazines.com. Seto defined this as the Wal-Mart effect, and the numbers support this.

But, as much as the new landscape has taken hold, the 2011 magazine subscription stats Seto showed demonstrated otherwise. For major magazines in Canada, print subscriptions outpace digital subscriptions by a huge margin – digital tracks at less than 1%. There are many reasons for this, as Seto shared with the DIA audience. Print magazines are still more convenient – easy to read, easy to find content. Print is still better.

Magazine Models of the Future

While the magazine landscape is not changing as fast as you might think, said Seto, change is on the way. We read what we grew up with. People aged 35 and under are gravitating toward digital. Digital magazines will not be static. They will be designed for the screen and both editorial and ads will include interactive videos, slide shows, etc. However, Seto cautioned, the rich media options need to be used selectively to enhance content while ensuring delivery does not get in its way.

Given the choice of visiting websites or reading digital magazines, readers are choosing the digital magazine with increasing frequency – it is not yet competing with print magazines. In fact, Seto cited examples of magazines with both print and digital editions. One was an established print magazine published 5 times a year that launched an interactive digital magazine in the Fall of 2011 sponsored by Epson Canada. It continues to be published five times a year – five digital and two print versions because there are only two months where advertisers want to buy print advertising. Seto told DIA listeners that he sees this as more the model for select magazines of the future…heavy digital but still print. It’s all about content and the ease of reading that content that is supported and enhanced by advertising.

When do you Jump on the Bandwagon

There are five phases of technology development. The time frame over which each of these phases happens depends on the technology.

1. Technology trigger

Launched with considerable media fanfare – you have to have it now even though you don’t know how to use it yet.

2. Peak of inflated expectations

The frenzied publicity generates over-enthusiasm, unrealistic expectations – the bandwagon effect. While there might be some successful applications of the technology there are typically more failures.

3. Trough of disillusionment

The technology has failed to meet expectations and quickly becomes unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology. The task of sifting through the garbage to find the winner is not easy.

4. Slope of enlightenment

The technology is not newsworthy anymore and the press is not covering it. But… the marketplace has experimented to find benefits and practical applications. Now we have figured out how to build a money-making business model around it. At this phase, if you don’t try, you don’t learn, and if you don’t learn you don’t know how to win. So, asked Seto, would you rather be the lead horse or the one behind? When do you jump in to be the lead horse, though, without losing your shirt?

5. Plateau of productivity

The benefits have become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology has become increasingly stable and evolves into 2nd and 3rd generations. The final height of the plateau depends on the degree to which the technology has become applicable, beneficial, and owns a niche market. Now we know how to make money from it.

Seto showed charts to further expand on these phases with detail and examples of each of the phases along with supporting statistics. He advised the DIA audience to use research-based information, not media hype to decide when to jump on the bandwagon.

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