In the heated magazine business, the concept of survival of the fittest involves significantly more calculation than the wild brandishing of a club. As the media and publishing landscape shifts to accommodate the changing preferences of readers and advertisers, the Henry Luces of the world are faced with a choice: evolve, or die out.
Today, publishers find themselves in a race with the lithe form of the Internet and its steady stream of content vying for the attention of readers with less time on their hands. The e-zine is proving to be one way to adapt to the new media environment. This digital medium is a bridge between the demands of the digital landscape and the timeless value of holding and paging through a magazine in one’s hands. Strategically aligning a print magazine with an e-zine provides an ideal platform for competitive distinction and cross promotion, as recent industry moves attest. Not only can the e-zine heighten visibility — an obvious effect — but the strategic overlay of the e-zine with a print product’s niche and editorial mission can spark a new subset of loyalists.
For the print magazine’s readership base, added engagement through new offerings strengthens affinity for the brand. An e-zine makes this possible on multiple levels. Delivering content in the e-zine format connects readers and subscribers to a dynamic environment that can be more frequently refreshed and changed than its print companion. This approach to content fits the lifestyle of the reader, who expects to mingle with it more frequently in various settings.
Integrating an e-zine into a publisher’s portfolio instantly raises mass and scale. With the add-on of a complimentary digital offering, an audience of enthusiasts is acquired and, ideally, maintained. Taking advantage of this opportunity smartly — always with attention to service-based editorial, co-branding in a way that does not alienate your core audience — builds brand equity. Ultimately, that brand equity translates into a differentiated, more enticing content and advertising platform.
A magazine’s lifeline is its advertiser base. The increased visibility that comes with a cross-promotional partnership makes an ad buy more attractive, also giving advertisers rifle-shot reach at targeted demographics through creative, Web-based strategies and a chance to message across a variety of vehicles. In markets where both media have a foothold and an established level of cachet, the ad bases will mingle organically, nurturing that lifeline.
The evolution of publishing is presenting many challenges, but unprecedented opportunity at the same time. Finding a way to play on geographical and editorial synergies between print models and digital platforms will become increasingly vital with time. Those that don’t take the dialogue online will lose out — if not die out. For many print publishers, e-zines may represent a tool for long-term survival.