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Custom and Hybrid Publications Assert Pressure on Mainstream Magazines

12 Aug 2009

According to Nielsen's AdEx data, magazines are coming under pressure from publishing houses offering custom and hybrid editorial models as the internet and global economic downturn continues to hit their advertising revenues.


The data reveals the sector's 16 major consumer and business technology titles sold 16 per cent less advertising space in the 12 months to May 2009 than during the previous corresponding period.


Nielsen said the decline equated to a 17 per cent drop in the value of the industry, where spending was currently estimated at around $26.8 million.


As reported in The Australian, the situation has prompted concerns that editorial control over technology media is being diluted as independent titles close and are replaced by sponsored titles. Pippa Hollebone, regional media director with technology media buying specialist DWA, said it was much easier to convince advertisers to buy print ad titles where strong links between content and their products were apparent.


"In order to get print on a schedule we do need to be much more clever with it -- go into specific features or ads where it's a bit more integrated," she told The Australian.


"For example, Fairfax do roundtables where we can do an event and have a write-up in the publication afterwards and you place your ad next to the write-up. That sort of stuff is much easier to get signed off," Ms Hollebone said.


The situation was highlighted last month when Sydney publisher Derwent Howard announced it had won a contract to produce a new technology "education" magazine for Woolworths' Dick Smith chain, called Tech Living.


Derwent Howard said Tech Living, to be produced by veteran technology editor Ben Mansill, would have a circulation of about 120,000 -- two to three times that of the average technology magazine.


Tech Living will be distributed free in Dick Smith stores and sold in newsagents.


It will compete with independent titles including Australian Consolidated Press's Australian Personal Computer and Haymarket's PC Authority for advertisers.


Woolworths, however, will underwrite the distribution and production.


The Gadget Group, directed by Peter Blasina and his business partner Valens Quinn, have been publishing similar custom titles for Harvey Norman and Telstra - HDTV Sound & Vision and Go Magazine.


"These companies are starting to wake up to the value of these (magazines)," Mr Quinn told The Australian. "They're hitting people when they're buying in the retail environment, on the shop floor... and there's a lot of evidence that a more educated and informed person will buy more."


"As part of the pitch the question is: why bother to be a part of a magazine when you can own the magazine?"


Mr Quinn said Telstra and Harvey Norman took a hands-off role when it came to their respective magazines' editorial.



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