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Newspapers and Magazines See Excellent Growth in Digital Editions and Apps, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The printed publishing industry is undergoing drastic changes, including the sectors of books, magazines and newspapers.  The internet has largely changed the way that people seek daily news, reading material and entertainment.  Many publications have been struggling to maintain their subscription and advertiser bases, often without much success.  For many publishing firms, plummeting advertising revenues and shrinking readerships have wreaked financial havoc.
Savvy newspaper publishers are evolving into hybrid business models based on both printed editions and powerful online sites.  Others have completely dropped their costly print runs and gone to online-only.  For example, the Christian Science Monitor, once considered to be among the finest newspapers in America, stopped printing a daily newspaper and went to online delivery only in 2009.
As for magazines, most have suffered significant drops in ad pages.  Ladies Home Journal shut down regular print publication after 130 years.  Like newspapers, magazines are earning a rapidly growing portion of their revenues online, and virtually all major magazines have created apps to provide digital versions of their publications.  Magazine publishing giant Condé Nast folded its long-lived cooking magazine called Gourmet in recent years, focusing instead on its Bon Appetit magazine, which appeals to a similar audience.  Bon Appetit has been modernized to appeal to a broader, younger audience, and all printed edition subscribers now have free access to the digital app version.
While older generations of Americans were hooked on daily newspapers as their primary source of news, newer generations have enjoyed much greater choices of news media and have developed their own, more modern habits.  For example, the extreme popularity of cable TV news coverage from CNN and weather coverage from The Weather Channel make newspapers much less dominant.  Smartphone apps deliver instant, mobile access to a vast variety of news, weather and entertainment content.
The rapidly growing use of specialty internet sites like Craigslist, eBay, and is slicing market share from classified ads.  Craigslist, an extremely popular, localized news and classified ads site with a grassroots feeling, has already expanded to more than 700 cities in 70 nations.
Newspapers are fighting back by putting more and more emphasis on their own local web sites.  For example, most newspapers enable advertisers to write their own classified ads in an online form, and then preview and purchase the ad online.  That classified ad is typically shown both in the printed newspaper and in the online edition.  Other newspapers are improving online search at their web sites, so that consumers can easily find local services, stores and restaurants with a simple search.  Many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The New York Times are successfully generating very substantial revenues by charging subscriptions for full online access.
Some of the largest newspaper organizations have entered the weekly newspaper business in a huge way, to better appeal to audience segments that include non-English speakers, young people and consumers in affluent suburbs or revitalized downtown areas.  These weeklies tend to be smaller, more fun to read, and given away to consumers for free.  Staff costs are minimal.  Advertising in them appeals to smaller businesses, because the cost of an ad may be one-fourth the rate of advertising in a higher-circulation daily paper.  Some of these papers are aimed at Spanish-language speakers and other ethnic groups.  Other weekly newspapers are called “shoppers,” that is, they are filled with discount coupons and shopping tips.  
While the number of printed ad pages has fallen, ads in digital form have been on the rise.  Some major magazine publishers, such as Condé Nast have acquired advertising-technology firms to help bolster revenue.
Another trend in magazine advertising is for periodicals to create and customize ads that relate to editorial content in new ways.  Hearst worked with electronics manufacturer LG to place ads near the tables of contents in House Beautiful and Cosmopolitan.  The House Beautiful ad read “Is this simply a home magazine?  Or a recipe for living?” and had an internet link to an LG-backed microsite that discussed kitchen appliances.  The Cosmopolitan ad was about using LG cellphones to send text messages to friends.
The big challenge for all magazine and newspaper publishers is remaining competitive and innovative in an increasingly digital entertainment and media landscape.  A multi-step strategy has been adopted by many publishers:
1) Operate their own robust web sites, where they provide multiple features such as blogs and reader-generated commentary, along with videos and advertising.
2) Use new technology and the latest software to create mobile app editions specifically designed to be highly interactive on smartphones and tablets.  The growing popularity of smartphones as well as mobile platforms with large color screens, such as the iPad and newer Kindles, means that advertisers have the potential to create enticing ads with multiple features such as video and music, along with links to further information.
3) Continue to maintain print operations and publications alongside new digital formats.  In these cases, publishers must properly train and incentivize their advertising sales teams to sell advertising on all available platforms, printed and digital.

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