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Magazines 2020-Technology enhances but brands inspire and inform

01 Apr 2011

A panel of expert speakers addressed the sold-out lunch hosted by Publishers Australia at the Imax Theatre, Darling Harbour, on the topic of "Magazines 2020 with the theme, Content Providers, Curators or Experience Makers?".

The Panel consisted of MediaCom joint national trading director Nick Keenan, Aspermont Ltd CEO Colm O'Brien, Netsmarts and Digital Strategist, commentator and broadcaster Paul Wallbank, PwC executive director and editor of entertainment and media outlook Megan Brownlow and Pacific Magazines CEO Nick Chan.

MediaCom joint National Trading Director Nick Keenan believes editors, publishers and magazines are all three: "That's absolutely key and magazines and publishers that get that cross-platform content servicing right and do those three things with that in mind are going to do very well," he said. "You've got to protect that traditional model, the actual print channel because that's your core product and your brand."

It's all about brand not product said Aspermont Ltd CEO Colm O'Brien, PA Finance Director & WA Chapter Chair: "As publishers we need to be driving our business down the lines of our brands. For me our brand is all about delivering quality content, consistently. The channel of delivery is things that come and go - it could be events, print, online, mobile - so I'm all about thinking about brands and for publishers being experience makers for their readers and their advertisers. If you're always going to chase technology you'll die on that particular sword. You need to remain consistent to your brands and consistent to your content."

Netsmarts and Digital Strategist, Commentator & Broadcaster Paul Wallbank agreed, pointing out: "Successful magazines are going to find the niches where readers and advertisers will pay to be engaged and identified with key groups, demographics and markets.

Adding value is going to be the key to revenue on an Internet full of noise but increasingly fewer ‘nuggets of wisdom'.... It's those nuggets of wisdom, useful analysis and unique worthy content that will be what time-poor and somewhat information-addled consumers are going to be looking for," Wallbank said.

Although the Internet may be taking revenue from traditional media it's also growing the pie, pointed out PwC Executive Director & Editor of Entertainment & Media Outlook Megan Brownlow. "By 2014 online advertising will pull in an extra $1.6bn... and the ad market as a whole is growing 6.1% CAGR 2010-2014". She said magazine growth in Australia is expected to be 1% each year which may seem low but is far better than the global average (only 0.3%). The reasons included very good product... "we really do magazines well": Circulation may be down but readership overall is going up, she advised.

This could also be due to the resilience of magazines here, which was highlighted by Pacific Magazines CEO Nick Chan: "When loyalty is a four-letter word, when consumers want things immediately and always for free, it is remarkable that Australia can still sell over 3.5 million magazines per week just to consumers." He explained that what enables magazines to survive when they're so "structurally challenged" is imagination and creativity: "Good magazines entertain, inspire and inform and do so in the most personal and engaging way... where technology doesn't challenge - only enhances."


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