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What is the future of magazine media?

The Digital Magazine Awards have been going strong for six years, and the conference preceding the awards has been a place where the industry rebels and enthusiasts have gathered to discuss the issues facing the industry.

This year’s ‘Future of Magazine Media’ conference was no exception, featuring an eclectic mix of speakers and topics which brought a refreshing, behind-the-scenes honesty to many of the talks.

Although there are closures, cuts and general decline reported in magazine media every week, the very existence of the DMAs is testament to the success stories which still come out all around the world.

Colin Morrison, founder of the Flashes and Flames blog, opened the conference by putting the declining influence of print magazines themselves firmly in context.

“You would only have to go back ten years to find people who got most of their information from a print source,” Morrison explained. “Now, although print is a significant part of the media, it simply isn’t the single driver it used to be.”

The future may be bright, but it’s not ad-funded

Many of the speakers agreed that at a fundamental level, the ad-funded model is broken and cannot be relied on as a sustainable revenue source.

“The stronger businesses are those who are clear about exactly how they are funded and what they offer their readers,” Morrison asserted. He argued that while there are always exceptions, those that are doing well are those which have paying readers which they can put time and energy into serving properly. “When it comes to digital, you can give readers exactly what they want”

Rebekah Billingsley from John Brown Media was also sceptical about the future of the ad-funded model online, but was more positive about its place in print. “We all saw programmatic coming, and dropped our sense of quality and dignity,” she said.

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