magazine-rack

Why is marketing for print magazines so outdated?

This year’s American Magazine Media Conference was all about “media” with hardly any attention paid to the actual “magazines,” but I did come across two revealing quotes:

  1. “We carry higher CPMs for our brands that are first in print and then go to digital versus those that are only digital,” said David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines. “The print product makes it more premium in digital.”
  2. “The people that are left on the print side are just manning the wheel, and they’re not asked to come up with any ideas,” said an anonymous “ad sales finance director” when Digiday asked, “Is anyone even trying to think in an innovative way about print anymore?

Ouch, that second one really hit home. Right after I read the Digiday piece, as if on cue a truly awful, horribly out-of-date direct-mail piece from TIME magazine was excreted into my mailbox. This Creature from the Pre-Internet Lagoon reared up to remind us that solicitations for print subscriptions are as mindless as ever – and increasingly out of touch with the realities of the business.

(Don’t tell me this is an isolated case. For half the industry, innovation in subscription campaigns means, “Let’s copy what Time Inc. did.”)

The letter came packaged in a nondescript envelope with a “DO NOT BEND” warning and no markings to indicate the sender – as if it contained a credit card.

Buried amidst the marketing copy was a brief description of the magazine itself – e.g. “Comprehensive coverage of world news and politics” and “TIME Person of the Year and all other Special Issues”.

But nowhere was there a single word from the magazine itself or a peek at how it looked, other than an illegible image of one of the title’s less inspiring covers. And, hello 21st Century, not a link to where us oldsters could use that Interweb thing and get a sense of what’s actually in the magazine.

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