Has the publication market in the region become saturated in certain areas or do we have room for more? Two journalists offer their opposing views…
“NO” says Robin Amlôt, Managing Editor, CPI Financial
“Good-looking, high quality content targeting the right readership will always find a market and will always find an advertiser willing to support it in order to reach that audience”
In a varied career in media I have spent time in all forms: magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and online. The search for a profitable audience is the key to all media outlets. Without an audience that can generate revenue to pay for content and content delivery, media does not exist. Having said that, how big an audience do you need? We all want to reach decision-makers. That is true of both B2B and B2C magazines. The decision in question might be which investment banks to choose to help your company carry out an IPO or it might be what fashion boutique from which to purchase the next cocktail dress, etc.
No commercial media owner, whether corporate or individual, chooses to publish a magazine other than to make money so it is fairly safe to say that the industry at large does NOT believe that the market is saturated – as the continued growth in the number of titles on offer attests. However, this is not ‘steady state’ growth. As some titles are born, others die. As publishers, journalists, art directors, ad sales and circulation managers we are only as good as a combination of our last issue and our next issue.
The economist Joseph Schumpeter is renowned [blamed?] for the term ‘creative destruction’ as a metaphor for capitalism. Creative destruction is inevitable in the media industry as titles fail, titles survive and new titles are launched. Advertisers want to reach their chosen specific set of decision makers. Does your title provide them? Does a new title do a better job of reaching them? Where will that ad spend be allocated? Who, ultimately, will provide the funds to settle the print bills and the staff salaries?
Good-looking [ideally], high quality content targeting the right readership will always find a market and [again, ideally] will always find an advertiser willing to support it in order to reach that audience, providing that the publisher is able to ‘tell the story’ properly and explain the benefits of the publication in terms of the decision-makers it reaches.
There is no such thing as ‘a plateau’ in terms of publications because such a statement assumes that all the publications that have existed will continue to exist. Look back 20 years [an arbitrary number]. How many of the titles then in existence are still with us. How many of those published now will still be in existence in 20 years’ time? And then there’s the small matter of technological change. Should we indeed be discussing ‘publications’ at all or should we now be thinking of ‘brands’ rather than titles and considering the brand as an entity that exists in more than one medium, that our readers ‘consume’ both online and offline? But I guess that’s another discussion entirely…
“YES” says Nick Rego, Senior Editor, AskMen Middle East
“Another fitness magazine, perhaps another publication about home decor, or maybe just recycled celebrity news combed from various blogs. The thirst for original and expressive content is very real, but there are few publications that truly understand it”
It’s easy to glance through the news rack at your local grocery store checkout and have the various publications all blur together. While there are certain key topics that will almost always be covered by several publications, it seems that if you buy one magazine, you’ve bought them all, at least in terms of content.
There are several publications both new and old in the region that seem to think it’s a good idea to launch a new magazine or name every year. Another fitness magazine, perhaps another publication about home decor, or maybe just recycled celebrity news combed from various blogs. The thirst for original and expressive content is very real, but there are few publications that truly understand it. The print market is very competitive, and I find that more and more publications are trying their best to figure out how to reach out to readers in an already saturated market. There doesn’t seem to be much differentiating one publication from another, and it seems that in the end it’s just a matter of which branded magazine you prefer over another.
On a rare occasion, I will thumb through a publication and find an interesting and relevant local story buried amongst other stories that don’t always speak to the regional audience. As a publisher, the question to ask is whether or not people actually value a particular publication or not. There’s no point in putting out a publication just for the sake of it, or just because you see a competitor doing it. Focus instead on quality content and publications that resonate with different kinds of audiences, rather than just going for a cookie-cutter mould in the hopes that someone will like what you publish.
There seems to be too many publications at times all clamoring for the top spot – endless rows of celebrity magazines, fashion spreads and fitness publications to name a few, all adorn our local shops, but hidden between all of them are the niche publications that recognise the need for truly original content and insight. I’m certainly sure there are plenty of publications who are going to be sticking around for years to come, but in doing so need to realise that they have to continue to evolve with current trends in order to try and stay relevant to a whole new always-connected audience.