In this guest post, head of content at Storyation, Lauren Quaintance, reckons if print is dead, someone forgot to tell brands.
There’s a certain inevitability about the death of print. We’ve all heard about how the financial model that has underpinned the print media since the time of Gutenberg is no more.
Just as important, though, has been the obliteration of attention. We live in a time where digital distraction is normal, where we pay “continuous partial attention” to a unending stream of content and almost a quarter of us spend more time on our smartphones than talking to our partner or friends. (How depressing.)
And yet, as far as brands are concerned, print is far from dead. And we’re not just talking about any brands; we’re talking about global digital brands such as Uber, Net-a-Porter and Airbnb all launching actual physical magazines in the last couple of years.
In the case of Airbnb it was a one-off magazine memorably named Pineapple but they are reported to be in talks with publisher Hearst about an ongoing magazine project.
Closer to home the venerable department store David Jones has announced that it too is launching a quarterly glossy magazine at a time when you might think it would be more focused on its digital strategy.
The question is: why? When I worked in magazines at Fairfax and Bauer we talked a lot about the time readers spent with our titles. They read a magazine on the couch on a lazy Saturday afternoon or took it in the bath with them.
They were immersed and their attention was total. It’s true that in an age of digital distraction time spent with magazines is dropping, but it’s still phenomenal. One recent study found half of magazine readers spent at least 30 minutes with their publication of choice (and when delivered the same material in a digital package the amount of time spent dropped dramatically.)
Compare that to the average time spent per visit to a media website of around two to three minutes and you’ll understand why marketers have latched onto magazines in the pitched battle for attention in 2016.
Done well, a magazine can capture the essence of a brand and measurably drive sales. When Porter, the print magazine from online fashion retailer Net-A-Porter launched in 2014, it was pitched as the first “truly global shoppable print magazine” and has built a circulation that rivals Vogue despite costing US$4 more an issue. So, is print is dead? Perhaps not quite yet.