How Much is a Magazine’s Content Worth? Part III

There will always be gatekeepers of one form or another, whether traditional publishers or the crowd-sourced variety. In both cases, the crowds are usually led by a few vocal minorities, and both have a history of chasing trends while ignoring new voices and ideas, so what's old is basically new again. The true value of content is more measurable than it's ever been, so publishers' primary focus should be on curating great content that people are willing to pay for, and to organize and nurture a community around that content and the authors who create it. That community will exist in multiple places and spaces, and vary wildly in size; in some cases, they won't be the least bit interested in having advertising invade their space, overtly or covertly.

How Much is a Magazine’s Content Worth? Part II

With advertising revenue less reliable than ever—overall ad spending declined another 15.1 percent in Q1 2009 (Bernstein’s Research)—this prolonged and brutal economic downturn will claim even more magazines before the year is over, requiring the rapid development of alternative revenue streams and pitting those still standing in an intriguing, high-stakes game of "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast". One of the seemingly obvious steps to take would be to raise the deeply discounted subscription rates that were formerly subsidized by advertising, sending a clear message to readers (and advertisers) about the true value of the content being published. While most magazines would undoubtedly lose subscribers, the ones they retained would be more profitable, more engaged, and more responsive to relevant advertising and direct-to-consumer offerings.

How Much is a Magazine’s Content Worth? Part I

I'm no fetishist or luddite, though, and while I tend to favor print, my definition of a magazine is platform neutral. I've worked in magazine publishing for over 15 years now—from audience development to advertising sales, freelance editorial to events planning, corporate to DIY—and stand firmly with the digital generation that's purportedly out mugging elderly newspapers in broad daylight, and striking fear in the hearts of cowardly and superstitious magazines in the middle of the night. Seeing subscription offers like the one above for Fast Company and Inc.—two solid print magazines devaluing their editorial content at only $.75/issue while simultaneously making it all available for free online—I think that the death of the current ad-supported model is inevitable and, arguably, a good thing.