Two young execs on the future of digital magazines; plus, Time Inc. digital stays busy and InStyle ventures into, yes, VR
The future of digital magazines gets brighter with every passing fiscal quarter, but it’s a slow and steady progress as traditional revenue generators try to keep pace with advancing technologies, evolving device usage, and the gradual migration of ad dollars from print to the mobile web.
Among the many variables that will determine the future of digital magazines, there are also many constants: We know that mobile content strategy is a key; that social media will continue to be instrumental; that mergers & acquisitions will play a big part.
The Future of Digital Magazines According to Gus Wenner
Gus Wenner took over as head of digital at Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, and Us Weekly just over a year ago, and during his short tenure, traffic has more than doubled. According to a recent interview with MinOnline, he wants to at least double it again by 2016. And how he does so will figure prominently into the future of digital magazines. For him, mobile and social are the keys to online success.
“I think that they have enormous value and I’d be surprised if any magazine publisher told you that their Web properties weren’t their primary focus right now. It’s the future; there’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that that’s the case,” Wenner told Jameson Doris.
“My reference points and intake and the people that I take a look at on a daily basis range from digital-only sites like BuzzFeed and Vox, who do certain things extremely well that I’m constantly pulling from, to very traditional brands like The New York Times, who I think do an unbelievable job. I don’t think there’s anyone in the digital media space that’s doing everything right, but I think that there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening. There are a lot of doors being opened by all sorts of different digital media companies. I don’t think you can succeed unless you’re looking at everyone and learning from across the whole industry.”
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“You have to be extremely collaborative and very agile. If a good idea is presented and there’s a case for it, you have to pursue it. … There’s got to be freedom to move at rapid speed. Collaboration is key in the way the lines have been blurred between edit and advertising. There’s more opportunity to do interesting partnerships and integrations that weren’t available in the traditional print space. So I’d say if you’re not agile and not collaborative then you’re not going to do well in digital.”
The Future of Digital Magazines According to Elisa Benson
Meanwhile, Elisa Benson, social director for Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Redbook, has her own thoughts on the future of digital magazines.
“Publishers absolutely need social media teams – the same way you need writers and designers and video editors and photographers and other people with specific skill sets. When I first started tweeting awards shows for Cosmopolitan, photos didn’t even show up on Twitter. And now live-tweeting is about creating video clips and GIFs in real time,” Benson told Kelsey Lundstrom.
“The social landscape changes very quickly, and it’s crucial to have people paying attention to those changes and steering the brand. Just because you have a personal Twitter account and a few thousand followers doesn’t mean you can navigate a Facebook algorithm change, or create a compelling Snapchat story, or understand what Instagram photos drive boosts in followers and which ones don’t.”
Time Inc. Digital’s Add/Drop
InStyle Is a Virtual Reality Pioneer
InStyle has partnered with Jaunt to produce virtual reality content focusing on cover shoots and other fashion coverage, MinOnline reports, making them the first such magazine to do so.
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To read more about the future of digital magazines in the news, visit MinOnline.