Are ad-free magazines the wave of the future? With Rodale’s latest move, one more sign is pointing to yes.
Among publishing executives, is there anyone more admirable than Maria Rodale? Of course, we all have our favorites, but for us, Rodale’s new media innovation, multiplatform strategy instincts, niche content bona fides, and other qualities make her a true titan of the industry. And now, as stalwart Rodale property Prevention joins a small number of ad-free magazines, you see a leading title take a big step in the battle against ad blocking, viewability, and other challenges of a traditional revenue model by becoming essentially a members’ only club supported by subscribers and perhaps ecommerce content strategy.
Another favorite of ours, Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, interviews Rodale for a fantastic recent piece, getting a behind-the-scenes look at how the decision to go ad-free was made, and what it will mean for the brand.
Let’s take a look at some of the interview’s highlights!
Rodale on whether all titles will go ad-free:
“Each magazine is very unique and lives in a very unique ecosystem. Bicycling magazine, for example, all of the bicycling advertising is a core benefit of the magazine. Readers love it in a very different way than they love advertising in other magazines. So, each magazine has to be looked at on its own. And evaluated based on its very unique business model and its very unique environment in which it lives. And that’s constantly changing, which is why we don’t have the luxury of not changing with it.”
On how print can become more interactive:
“That’s what’s exciting about the future. We are only just beginning with this experiment. That issue was put out, literally, with just a few months’ notice and without the editor in chief in place. Barbara O’Dair has joined and is really excited about continuing the evolution and development of the magazine. And that’s what’s going to make this more fun, to try new things.”
On the narrowing of niche strategy:
“That’s subscriber data and research; it always appeals to our reader when we say 40-plus, because a person’s health issues at 40-plus are different than at 21. They have different concerns and their bodies are different. There is tons of information out there for a generic audience, but the Prevention reader is a more mature woman or man.”
On Prevention’s future:
“Everyone should subscribe to the new magazine and let us know what you think. Be a part of it. And I’d also just like to acknowledge all of the hard work that goes into creating a really great product. I wrote a blog recently that talked a bit about our research library. And that’s not free; people want good stuff for free, but you can’t do that for very long. And if you want quality you have to support the people who are educated and experienced to bring quality and we hope and believe and have faith that people will value and trust this information to the point that they will support it and support us and support our libraries.”
After reading this, we went to the Prevention web site. One immediately hits a floater asking you to sign up for 12 free reports and a 6-issue subscription and you will be invoiced for $22, plus $1.99 S&H.
The floater asks for name, address, and email. We ordered it just to see what happens next. After you submit, you get full page offers for more paid reports. Saying no thanks immediately takes you to the next offer. You get three before going to a confirmation page for your order (which features more ads for Rodale products).
We like it!
The email confirmation was a simple receipt for the order. It will be interesting to see what the invoice says once we get it!
What are your thoughts on ad-free magazines? Let us know in the comments!
To read more about ad-free magazines and other industry news, visit Samir Husni’s “Mr. Magazine” website.