In Circulation: It's all in the mix

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A big story out of the publishing world last week was Ziff Davis Media filing for bankruptcy. The company, which publishes PC Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly, attributed its losses to falling subscription and advertising numbers. However, Ziff Davis' filings with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York also cited the company's inability to grow quickly online as a reason for waning consumer interest in the brand. 

In other circ marketing news, Science News and Learning revamped and predicted expansions for their print holdings, while Time Inc.'s SPC created a new site for its shelter magazines.

Why the re-cap? This week's news highlights the dynamism of the industry — the mix of highs and lows and the need to adapt and vary offerings to suit the market.

Ziff Davis' announcement could have been seen as another strike against the print industry — falling subscriptions and soft ad sales pulling a large company into bankruptcy. But the company recognized the need for change and the opportunity for growth. The company is restructuring, adding to its digital offerings but maintaining its print titles. Executives predict that the company will exit court protection by midsummer.

Learning, Science News and SPC are changing as well — reaching out to new audiences, adjusting their coverage, and using the Internet as a means to build a diversified brand.

The actions taken by these companies illustrate what smart marketers already knew. First, a business must remain agile and changeable. Had Ziff Davis been able to restructure at the same rate that consumer demands changed, there may not have been a need for such drastic action now.

Second, these companies all show that a mix of complementary products can be just that — complementary. A Web site can promote a magazine as easily as a magazine a Web site. With both products working together, a marketer can get eyes to both, driving traffic across an entire brand.

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