By: Spencer Kennedy
One common characteristic of successful media outlets is flexibility. In the past two centuries, the dominant media have been newspapers, magazines, film, radio, television and the Internet; with the medium’s unique properties helping to capture the attention of an advertiser’s target audience. When newspapers and magazines lost readership to radio and television, they improvised by specializing in various topics in order to maximize efficiency and target specific populations. Radio did the same when television became the dominant medium, while television fights to retain its viewers during the age of the Internet.
Media vehicles are notoriously adaptable when it comes to funding their efforts. When it was no longer possible to support a publication or network by relying solely on circulation or subscriptions, the media looked to advertisers for the money they needed on the basis of advertising’s flexibility.
This relationship between a medium’s success and its ability to attract advertisers is nothing new. In an article on Adage.com entitled “An Ad Age Digital Subscription for Less Than $7/Month? Yep (for a Limited Time Only)” the publication announced that, for Columbus Day only, a subscription to “Ad Age” would cost $79 per year instead of the usual $99. Also included in the article were the various perks that come with a digital subscription – smartphone, iPad, and e-editions of the magazine; breaking news alerts for mobile devices, and more.
This is extremely relevant to the current newspaper crisis. In an attempt to remain open and relevant, many papers have flocked to the Internet and cut staff to keep from going under. Most print media are struggling to cope with digitization, and going digital themselves has been the most promising option. The focus is less on profiting from the circulation and distribution of media (print or digital) and more on advertising. It is likely that one of the aspects behind Ad Age’s discount is that the publication is willing to forfeit some of one stream of revenue (subscription costs) to expand another (advertising).
The take-home message here is that times are changing. When looked at historically, the boom in digital technologies will be one of the most memorable topics. The positive outcomes have been tremendous, but negatives do exist. While many will champion the communication advancements of the past few years, there will certainly be further discussion of the decline of print media.
Media are extremely flexible, but it will be interesting to see where newspapers and magazines go next. “Ad Age” has proven this flexibility by trying to lure customers with a $20 discount and digital compatibility. Much has changed during the age of the Internet, and it will be adaptability that determines the winners and losers.