If magazines can become genuinely data-driven, they have a future

As specimens of mass media, printed catalogs and magazines no longer hold the same proud sway they did in the bygone eras of Sears Roebuck and Life. But, that doesn’t mean they’re no longer relevant – or that digital technologies can’t give them a renewed lease on life for readers and advertisers alike.

Panel discussions at the recent DigiPub conference examined both the inherent weaknesses and the potential strengths of catalogs and magazines in the omnichannel media mix. The consensus was that if publishers can rethink what these venerable vehicles should be trying to accomplish now, some of their most interesting days could still be ahead of them.

The first thing to realise, according to Bob Sacks (Precision Media Group) is that print is moving away from being perceived as a commodity and is increasingly being seen as a luxury. Publishers and marketers should encourage the trend by using data to create targeted magazines that readers will welcome as exclusive and luxurious.

Magazines could be doing a better job of collecting the data they will need to reap the benefits of personalized printing in short runs, according to Sacks. In any event, he concluded, magazines have always survived by giving people the kinds of reading experiences they want, and he predicted that they’ll continue to find ways to do so.

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