MagaBrands and Online Content

May 2nd, 2008

I somehow missed this interesting development last October, but it’s well worth getting it on the record here.

The annual American Magazine Conference was held October 28-30, 2007. As stated on the Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) site promoting the conference:

“Our theme this year is ‘The MagaBrand Revolution: How Media Brands are Finding Success on the Printed Page—And Beyond.’ What is a MagaBrand? It’s a magazine that’s found a way to extend the power of its brand beyond the printed periodical—into realms like ‘old’ media (books, newsstand specials, television, radio); ‘new’ media (podcasts, webcasts, cellcasts, e-newsletters); even non-media (nightclubs, restaurants, tour operations, fashion lines, retail products, conventions, big-cause crusades, hotels and casinos).

“The MagaBrand Revolution will detail how magazines can—and must—expand their brands into all corners of the target audience’s consciousness, and how your magazine will live or die on the inventiveness and daring you bring to your brand. From bricks and mortar to burgeoning new technologies, you’ll learn what works (and what doesn’t) in the new media environment.”

Jason Fell, in a February 2008 Folio blog called “Print No Longer ‘Heart and Soul’ of Magazine Brands,” adds a commentary to the topic. “Here’s an idea that has been kicked around ad nauseum (see: ‘MagaBrands,’ Dave Zinczenko et al.) but perhaps never expressed so bluntly. According to Computerworld and Infoworld editorial director Don Tenant, the print magazine no longer should be the “heart and soul” of a brand. Instead, as his team did at IDG, publishers should think of their brand as an online media company with ancillary print and event products,” Fell wrote.

“‘Advertising is shifting from print to online in droves. So, what do you do?’ Tenant said this morning during a session at the FOLIO: Publishing Summit. ‘Content should be going online first. Our strategy is to think of print as being a compilation of the content online.’

“Like a growing number of companies, Tenant’s group merged its print and online editorial teams four months ago. On the surface, at least, this seems to be an easy, efficient content management strategy.

“‘I can’t tell you how much this was a morale boost for everyone,’ he said. ‘ We should have had a plan in place all along to unite the two teams.’” End of blog entry.

While Mr. Fell may think the idea has been kicked around ad nauseum, I’d argue that while getting kicked around, the concept has failed to be put into practice by most print publishers (book publishers being the #1 offender, followed by newspaper and then magazine publishers).

The time to stop kicking and start acting is overdue.