the road ahead 07.2008

Surprise! Wooden Horse reports a study a paid for by digital publisher Zinio found that 35% of digital magazine subscribers pay more attention to the ads than they do when reading physical magazines. It also suggests readers put a high value on ads that let them connect directly with advertisers. (Car And Driver has introduced inventory feature searches, shopping tools, photos and bar codes scannable by mobile phone cameras.) Top reasons for subscribing to a digital magazine rather than its print version included immediate delivery and access to content, the ability to store issues on one’s computer, and the perception that digital subscriptions are less harmful to the environment . . . . Yet, WIRED magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, when asked in a Charlie Rose interview, “Do you have to be a print publication? ”  answered:

What we’re learning is that in an era where people have choices, the job of every print publication is to add value to the web. If you’re a newspaper, and I say this as someone who loves newspapers, arguably you’re a value-subtract medium — the same product, but 18 hours late and it leaves smudgy ink on your fingers. If you’re a monthly magazine, you are doing something the web doesn’t do. It is long form, 8,000 words, photography, design, lavish spreads on high stock. I believe in these kinds of magazines in the same way I believe in books. A book is a superior product to reading the same material as text on a screen…I think a book has a place in the 21st century and I think a magazine [does] things that don’t work on the web. And that is a good place to be for the magazine industry in the future.

Not necessarily for attracting the demographics that most advertisers shoot for.

An Associated Press survey of 18 to 24-year-old online readers in six cities around the world, revealed that most of them preferred skimming headlines to reading in-depth analysis of complex issues. They get their “news” when they open their E Mail and describe looking up information on the web as “work.” . . . U.S.News & World Report, is endeavoring to answer this “too much data, too little time” dilemma with its www.RankingsAndReviews.com, a growing online resource that simplifies sorting through conflicting purchasing information for a number of products. The site launched “Best Cars & Trucks” in fall 2007 to capture and analyze validated data and expert opinions from many leading sources of automotive
information in one place, providing consumers with an augmented “review of reviews.”

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