The Decline of Print

Jan 16th 2017

Long Live Publishing!

Not a week goes by without another news article about an American or Canadian media chain closing down another magazine, or folding up another newspaper.

It’s the internet.

It’s also basic economics; doing a print run of 100,000 paper magazines and then distributing them involves a high ‘fixed cost’. The printing operations and fleets of trucks themselves are a fixed cost to maintain and run.

The internet runs on ‘variable cost’; it costs essentially nothing to publish a website article. If your website becomes massively popular, you will, yes, probably have to pay higher hosting costs – but that’s a good thing.

The fixed costs on the internet really involve only talent, as with any media, someone has to create interesting content, be it written or in pictures.

But what allowed magazines and newspapers to prosper for so long?

  1. Consumers willing to pay to purchase the printed item
    On the internet, consumers are generally no longer willing to pay for content, with the exception of music and video (ad-free) – so revenue source #1 is gone.
  2. Ad revenue
    Advertisers wanting to reach the eyes of consumers, and willing to pay the prices asked of them by the publications, often based on vague audience measurement.Advertisers still want to reach consumers, of course. But as far as revenue source #2, advertisers can now demand and receive measurement and insight never before available in print.

Publishing has moved to the internet because how people consume their news and entertainment has changed. Published material is consumed on mobile devices, desktop computers, and inside of social media platforms, curated by consumer peers.

So advertising in the new publishing environment is now fully digital. Lower cost, more accountable, and highly targeted for ROI (Return on Investment).

Even beyond that, the model of paying for ads have changed – pay for results instead of pay for space. Instead of estimating *impressions* i.e. how many people *may* have seen your ad, the most powerful ad formats are driven by *actions* – clicks on the ad that interests the consumer, views of ads on videos (watched for a certain specified length of time!).

Impressions have not disappeared, but have become more measurable – branding remains of course a valid course for many retailers, services, and product brands.

So today, although print is in decline – talented people are still publishing content – people are reading that content – and digital advertisers have even better, more effective ways of getting in front of those already-interested prospects.

They’re waiting for you.