Magazines Move to Web

With the first generation to be raised with
the Internet reaching young adulthood, magazines are moving to the web to reach
them.

An article by Katherine Q. Seelye in the New York Times this morning gives a good look into the move of magazine publisher Conde’ Nast to the web to enhance content in its many publications.

It’s more than interesting discussion, it’s a primer on the changes that are being tested by existing media to keep their audiences while adapting to their changing media habits. As I wrote in the post before this, the corporation first had to see the urgency of the need for change and then figure out what to do about it. Seelye writes that interactivity, new forms of content and a willingness to innovate are keys in the process of “figuring it out.” One executive says this process is going on now and will probably continue through his working life.

One of the most fascinating insights from the article is the necessity for the various magazines at Conde’ Nast to step outside their brand when they go to the web. They find that the stable, secure brand does not transfer easily to the web, so they enhance content, re-brand and offer an independent brand on the web. This means they don’t just create a website, put the name of an existing magazine on it and emulate the magazine. If you build it like this, they won’t come.

This may not sound like much, but consider how much effort, money and thought has gone into branding a particular magazine, and keeping its relationship vital with the readers, and you realize that this is not a minor consideration. It’s pretty basic.

The web environment changes all of this. The web is a different experience and it requires a different approach. Stepping outside the brand provides the flexibility to re-purpose content and reach the web user.

There is much to be learned here and some of it applies to situations beyond magazine publishing. The demands of the new media environment make this kind of innovation, testing and experimentation necessary for many different groups. It’s an issue not only for communications organizations, it applies to membership organizations like churches and other groups. Changing with the evolving needs of the (take your pick) customer, reader, member is a major challenge today, and those who adapt stand a better chance of surviving than those who stay stuck in the past, or the present.

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