samedi 26 avril 2014
A magazine is dying. Why?
The Ladies Home Journal, a monthly women's magazine, published 10 times a year by Meredith Corporation, launched in 1883, is dying. It was, as M. McLuhan said about women's magazines, a true textbook, instructions for the American middle-class women's lifestyle. A how-to magazine for home and family. It was at first "Women at Home" and then Ladies Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper". Savoir vivre and savoir faire. It was one of the seven sister magazines with Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, McCalls, Redbook and Woman's Day.
The Journal will survive - how long? - as a website (http://www.lhj.com/), an app for tablets and a quarterly sold only at newsstands.
Of course, its demise is said to be advertising's fault!
The readership is getting older (median age: 57.9, source MRI 2012) and the magazine is probably not read by media-planners anymore. To those from the smartphone generation, it looks like an old-fashioned magazine for their mothers or grandmothers.
Obsolescing, diminishing readership, non-exclusive readership: one that can easily be targeted otherwise (by TV, Facebook): this is not due to advertising but rather to editorial content. Advertising is not manna falling miraculously on the media.
If a magazine's business model is based mostly on advertising, then the content must be determined by targeting and monetization of precisely targeted readership. In fact, journalists and reps should work hand in hand using the very same targeting tools (data). The time when a "Chinese wall" separated them is over. Who still believes in such a Chinese wall anyway?
The revolution in magazine publishing will probably come from analysis of all kinds of data from all kinds of devices related to a media (surfing, subscribership, shopping, apps, newsletters, blogs, mails, etc.).
If we want to understand why The Ladies' Home Journal is dying, we need a precise diagnosis, made with data. The cure also will come from data.