This year has been a game-changer for all of us. A pandemic has come to reshape everything we had foreseen for the years to come. Therefore, companies, governments, individuals, and every industry have been forced to adapt quickly to new tendencies. Therefore, the magazine publishing industry is enduring some changes as well, which is why we are reviewing a few of the most important trends for this 2020.
Many industries have been developing new and more advanced technologies to analyze and understand people’s behavior online, these data collection tools are one of the modern times gold mines. And the pandemic has shed new light on the importance of collecting data to get a deeper understanding of their audiences.
Ever since the coronavirus spread and the quarantine started, consumer behavior has shifted completely in just a couple of months, throwing many companies off balance. The publishing industry is now dealing with a whole new audience and their different spending habits, work schedules, and many other concerns.
In a recent survey performed by Havas Media, half of those surveyed said they are watching more TV and streaming more video with the free time on their hands. This behavior is most common among those aged 25 to 34, but the trend crosses all demographics, even those in the 54-to-65 range.
And the changes are happening swiftly, raising concerns whether these movements are going to last long enough for advertisers and publishers to devote themselves to them. However, many experts have said that a pandemic is long enough for behavior to turn into a habit.
All the more reason for print and digital publishers to improve their ability to track consumers during this pivotal time. Publishers that can learn what their new audience does (or doesn’t), will be able to communicate that to advertisers and potential partners in a more effective way and will stand in a better position comparing to the companies who don’t.
Advertisers and Publishers working closely
The core of media, especially in the publishing industry, has always been to find innovative ways to present information.
On the other hand, in present times, the sources of information have multiplied exponentially with digital media, making it even more vital to experiment and create high-quality content that can differentiate itself from the torrent of information and be meaningful for our readers.
For example, Buzzfeed and Business Insider have found that channeling their data and findings to brands has helped them craft their messages in a way that is appealing to their audiences. Buzzfeed in this case noticed people’s recent interest in entertaining content that became an escape from all the terrifying and overwhelming pandemic news.
They realized that readers were switching their attention from watching Netflix hits like the dating reality series Love Is Blind to Tiger King (whose tagline is “Murder, Mayhem, Madness”). And the publisher shared that observation with potential partners, including alcohol brands marketing toward those at home.
And when the content moves, so do advertisers. These alliances are vital both for publishers and advertisers to fully reach the consumers. “The ones that we see resonating are those publishers and brands that are listening to consumers and being mindful and helpful during this time. [Readers] are not looking for a 20-minute meal—they want to bake bread,” said Cynthia Kent Machata, head of planning at Havas Media Group.
High Quality and Differentiated content
Although this point has been a trend for quite some time now, it is still crucial for publishers to consider. We cannot rely completely on advertising revenue to sustain the industry, because there is a tendency to put journalistic excellence aside to give more room to advertisements.
Our consumers these days want to educate and inform themselves with reliable information, but also from the sources that show they care about the reader more than they care about ads. The money is important but if we prioritize it instead of the quality of our content, the readers are not going to have another choice but to leave. And with them, the advertisers.
Those that invest in “high-quality,” “differentiated” content will convince readers that journalism is worth paying for, said Ken Doctor, a media business analyst. “Reader revenue only becomes the dominant force if you earn it,” he said.
And there is no doubt that the industry has risen to the public’s standards, as they have spent the past few months in quarantine giving the best kind of content to their audience, even reducing the paywalls for people to access more information for free.
Media organizations have said they’re working faster than ever to move products from ideation to execution. Within days after safer-at-home orders went into effect, many media businesses turned their in-person events into virtual conferences and webinars. They’ve also created new products to interest advertisers and consumers.
Readers, in turn, are indicating they’re open to paying for content. Companies like The Atlantic, and the New York Times which prioritized covering the pandemic, reported that they attracted record-high numbers of subscribers in the first four weeks of coronavirus coverage. And the NYT website as well as The Washington Post have seen their traffic rise even more than in the 2016 presidential election.
It is clear that the following weeks, and months, will be crucial to publishers to retain subscribers, visitors, and readers as they continue to face an unsteady advertising industry. So, maintaining their resilience will be crucial if they are to come out of the pandemic alive.