Are You Saving Trees?

Interesting news came out of the publishing world in recent weeks, with Hearst Magazines announcing a deal to begin selling three of its magazines – Esquire, Popular Science and O, the Oprah Magazine – for the iPad, using Apple’s subscription model. That came shortly after Time Inc.’s announcement about its Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune titles, and was immediately followed by today’s news that Condé will soon offer iPad subscriptions to its Vanity Fair, Glamour, The New Yorker and others. Seems every major publisher is getting on board. The challenge, however, is how to get advertisers to do the same.

You’d think the ultra-targeting of ads that technologies like tablets offer, and the ultra-effective types of ad units publishers are developing for the digital realm, would help lock the deal. The challenge is how to count a digital subscriber relative to a print edition subscriber when it comes to determining ad rates. According to The New York Times, the Audit Bureau of Circulations has said that each digital subscription should count toward the rate base — the number of copies used to sell advertising. At the same time, publishers still demand a much higher premium for a print ad versus one that appears online.

It’s an interesting situation and one that I’ll leave to the advertising world to shake out. As a PR guy, there’s a similar issue to grapple with tied to earned media and its value, as dedicated online content delivered by publishers becomes more robust. Forbes’ CEO and CMO Networks, The New York Times’ Media Decoder, and Fast Company’s 30 Second MBA are just three of many highly influential online destinations we work with regularly to help showcase the vision and leadership of our C-suite clients. When a video interview posts to such a site, or breaking news hits there first, we can tell within minutes that the marketing influencers and brand decision makers we’re trying to reach are, in fact, paying attention to the message, sharing it with others, etc.

Despite the proven effectiveness of these types of placements as part of a broader thought leadership strategy, the fact is that many C-suiters ask that our efforts on their behalf focus almost exclusively on securing opportunities on the printed page. They believe their inclusion in a Fast Company printed edition story, for example, will carry a higher perceived value among prospects, clients, employees, investors and business partners than even deeper editorial coverage that would appear on FastCompany.com. We have a multitude of evidence that suggests otherwise, including their own admissions that they’re consuming most of their business reading online today. It doesn’t seem to sway them – yet.

What about you? Do you find yourself more engaged, persuaded, impressed, etc., by a story or mention that appears in print rather than – or in addition to – online? For me, the answer is a definite “no.” In fact, other than diving into that beautiful thing that is the Sunday New York Times every week, my life has become so “digital,” the impact of one distribution channel versus another has entirely faded away. I guess I’m saving a lot of trees. How about you?

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Howard Schacter and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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