You Can Never Be Too Thin, Except…

In the publishing industry a magazine’s weight and thickness is a strong indicator of their ad revenue.  We’ve all sadly watched as some of our favorite print magazines get thinner and thinner, and maybe even disappear because of the lack of ad revenues, smaller circulation levels (e.g. Newsweek) and/or the failure to transition well to digital.

The Association of Magazine Media shows that actual magazine ad pages have dropped back to levels found in 1992.  To simply survive, magazines must consider jumping from print to some level of online presence.  It’s also noted that digital magazine formats extend the reach of printed versions and that can benefit the whole industry.  However, this positive point may not save publishing.

The bulk of consumer magazines are primarily driven by their ad revenue (other than circulation/subscription dollars) and the transitioning of their print ad money to web ad revenue is one of the biggest issues facing the large-circulation magazines today.

There are very few magazine publishers that can survive the loss of print ad income if they discontinued their printed versions.  However, there are digital magazines creating ad sales from web-only publishing, but higher revenue is still generated from the combination of both print and web.

Meanwhile, much of the value consumer magazines offer is moving to a variety of other web media, including blogs, forums and image based/special interest sites such as Pinterest.

Print magazines are clearly struggling and for many, the long-term prognosis looks grim unless they have already taken steps toward surviving online.  It will be interesting to see who survives the fallout long-term.  Will more consumer magazines or B2B survive?  What’s your opinion?