Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Web2.0 magazine stuff

You can't relax for a minute in this fast-moving world.

Dennis publishing is moving further online, with Bizarre going all ugc. Cue videos of who knows what ... probably best not to think about it, actually.

How do you classify Auto Trader? Whatever, it's heading further into the digital world and taking some other big names with it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

£18m just for a Look

With the launch of IPC's new women's weekly Look on Tuesday (Feb 6), I now know what it feels like to have £18m-worth of magazine in my hands.

And it's ... £18m for this?

I can feel myself turning into Tufton-Bufton. £18m so that we know where to buy "Sienna's Bag", "Kate's Boots" and "Nicole's Bracelet". £18m so we can go and join in the "Shoe Frenzy At New Look". All cover lines from the first issue to go on sale and a pretty good intimation of what this magazine is about: shopping and celebrities.

Did IPC really need to get the staff to go and stay with potential readers to come up with this stuff? Just how academically rigorous was all that "ethnography"?

Was the editor a trifle disappointed that Kylie dumped Olivier the day before the magazine came out, thus rendering pages 46 and 47 ("Friends Beg Kylie:'Dump Olivier'") redundant at a stroke? Look at these datelines and weep! Sunday Feb 4, Monday Feb 5, Monday Feb 5 with ugc.

Were the readers at all surprised at discovering that one of the main Real Life stories concerned the young woman who came out of the Cambodian forest – a story which has been all over the media. True, Look customised it by bolting on a couple of paragraphs with comments from a psychologist and a psychiatrist but even so to label it exclusive when it has already appeared here, here, here, here and probably quite a few other places – like every media outlet in the world – besides is stretching the term somewhat.

On the plus side, it is very nicely produced, there are tons of pics of celebs and those who pass for celebs, there's lots of magazine craft on show and a stack of information about where to buy things and how much to pay. So, on this score, very well done, the 31 listed editorial staff.

But £18m ...

And the website appears to be hidden from the search spiders.

When I Googled "Look magazine" or even "Look magazine IPC" I found articles written about Look, but the closest I came to an IPC site when I tried on Thursday February 8 was a subscription offer which read: "Sorry, this offer cannot be found. You can now take advantage of our latest deals, available throughout the site." I eventually found the magazine's site by accident, via the IPC parent site.

Eighteen million pounds sterling and the magazine does not even have an instantly top-of-the-search-engine presence when it launches? What madness is this, Mr Hollamby? In the fast-moving worlds of celebrity and fashion, readers in the target age range of 18 to 30 cannot even wait two days to get an update, according to the editor of Us magazine (which appears to operate in very similar territory) in this clip.

One way or another I'm afraid that Look might just be the launch too far for me because we really don't need it and it doesn't do anything new or revolutionary. And once you've realised that we really don't need this magazine, we don't really need any of them, do we? And I'm not convinced that it's even especially good of its kind.

The only thing which all of that £18m will inspire people to do is to buy things, not even to make or do anything, simply consume. Try this for size, ladies.

£18m ... what else would that get in this world where more people don't even have access to clean water. If you want to make yourself feel really disgusted, go to the Gapminder site and view the world's inequalities in really effective graphic form. See where £18m would fit into that vision.

A footballer
A fair bit of fishing
A 9/11 Mastermind
Some social enterprises
More science teachers
A bit of e-voting
Rather a lot of help for people who need it

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Web2.0 and magazines

Following that report which said most magazines could make much better use of Web2.0, there's been something of a flurry in the last week or so.

Emap, who splurged massively in this area a few years back and then withdrew rapidly, have bought a UGC business called YoSpace (not like MySpace, then). Oddly enough they have also ordered up a business review from McKinsey, the former employer of such luminaries as William Hague. On the other hand, it may be that they need this because the consumer media business is going to be tough for a while ...

Elsewhere in the Emap forest, they have lost James Mallinson, who was strategy director at Emap2, the "full service marketing communications team" to Monkey, where he will become publisher.

Natmags also has a "full service marketing communciations"-style team which has been hiring. It has just taken on a new head for the "cross-platform central trading division".

Perhaps in a bid to cross those platforms – kids, make sure you use the footbridge – NatMags is reported to be thinking about launching an online magazine for women, much as dennis launched Monkey for men.

As for specific magazine developments, in the consumer sector What Car has hit new heights with its associated site and in the B2B sector Legal Week has found that Web2.0 developments have had huge effects on the readership-community.

Economics vs Business in the magazine market

It's very odd the way that economics and business so often don't go together.

Most people would accept the basic economic premise that lowering the price of a product is liklely to increase demand for it, and thus increase sales. But a well argued piece in Media Week points out that lowering the price also decreases the Retail Sales Value (RSV) - which means that each sale generates less money - and that supermarkets don't like this.

As we know, supermarkets have become increasingly important to magazine sales over the last few years. It has been posited that the growth in the weekly market has been driven as much by this kind of retail pressure/opportunity as by consumer demand, but clearly supermarkets would prefer weeklies to fetch a premium price to justify their presence in the store.

Does this matter to journalists? Well, yes, obviously it does. If your magazine is delisted by Tesco because of a low RSV then a large proportion of the retail sales opportunity disappears, the magazine loses circulation, the advertisers drop out and you lose your job.

Could this be one reason why Real has just closed, as reported by Press Gazette and MediaGuardian? Halving your frequency and cutting your cover price never really looked like a recipe for increased income, and both moves would fall foul of the RSV-police

The three worlds of publishing (journalism + advertising + management) should maintain working firewalls but journalists should be aware of how the world they work in is evolving.

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