2. 77% of that goes to nine companies, none of which have ever published a magazine.
3. That leaves $10 billion left on the table.
4. $5 billion is then spent, hell-bent on pure direct-marketing success.
5. That leaves $5 billion for premium print publishers to fight for, along with hundreds of other sites that have a legitimate shot at these dollars.
6. Total print spending (consumer magazines, B to B, newspapers) is roughly $17 billion, based on published rate cards.
7. So total print spending is more like $9 billion.
8. $9 billion is a much bigger number than $5 billion.
I'm not suggesting that print publishers abandon their online business. What I am proposing is they sell online as “added value” in the bigger pool with warmer water.
The online buying market, as an astute Chris Carter pointed out in an email to me, doesn’t value the individual publisher. Online buyers favor impression aggregation across thousands of sites driven by audience targeting over site-specific buys. Online buyers are telling premium print publishers “we’re just not that into you.” Print publishers continue to stick around, hoping things will get better as their display CPMs get worse (entire site CPMs, not specific line items).
Selling online ads to online buyers wasn’t a misstep for premium print brands, but a necessary step.. Now there is clear and established monetary value for online ad impressions on magazine Web sites, and print publishers can use this value to drive more print revenue.
For example: Buy 24 pages and get two weeks of site exclusivity as added value. Buy 12 pages and you earn one week.
For larger sites that don’t want to break their sites into 52 weeks for sale, create impression-based packages that offer 100% SOV per page view just for print buyers. So the offer then looks like this: Buy 18 pages and get 5 million high-quality branding impressions (which represents a market value of at least $100K).
Success for this approach would then live in the hands of sales management, who would have to be firm on the increase in print spending required to earn this online added value. The question then becomes, does the print buyer get the incremental dollars from the print budget, or does he or she wrestle it away from the online one? My question is, why does that matter?
The fears of trying this approach are outdated. They include the thought that if you give away something for free that you currently charge for, you can never charge for it again. The second is that print buyers can only buy print.
Neither of these fears is in play. First, you are not giving away online for free, you are using its value to unlock more print dollars, so it’s just creative accounting. Second, print buyers can only “buy” print because that’s how the budget the client handed them is defined. But in this case, online packages are “added value” just like “production and creative costs” are often embedded as added value to drive print spending, because print buyers don’t have access to a creative budget, either.
The best part of pivoting back to print buyers is that now print-centric salespeople are far more educated about selling online. So they can talk to print buyers they have better relationships with, and confidently promote and/or defend the “added value” these online ad packages deliver.
Online buyers have been throwing cold water on the value print publishers deliver online for years. It’s time for magazine publishers to swim in warmer waters and make print buyers look like heroes by earning impression packages that deliver clear branding value for “free,” provided they buy enough pages.
Driving pages this way will make magazines look healthier, drive more revenue for the right reasons, and inject much-needed confidence into a medium that has lost it.