A friend of mine was moving house and found an old copy of Media Week in his attic. He gave it to me because it contained an interview with a rather youthful me. I laughed, as you do when faced with an image of yourself from more than twenty years ago, and then I began to read, not the interview with me (which is toe curling) but everything else. The year was 1988.
On page three IPC were being roasted for a decline in their paid circulations. There was no Internet in 1988 – not even email. Back then we were fighting with the unions to introduce something called “New Technology” – which meant a computer on the desk. The unions were demanding more pay in return for co-operating with this initiative. We had no idea just how fundamental the technology was to become to the future of publishing.
In the period Jan to June 1988 the dreadful circulation results of which Media Week complained, were astonishing. I had forgotten how far we had fallen. Back then Woman had a circulation of 985903. Today the same title sells 318301. Womans Weekly has a circulation today of 338577. Back in 1988? You won’t believe it. 1240009!
Essentials? 815565 in 1988 but just 115432 today. Pratical Parenting – surely not a topic that has gone out of fashion, was selling 130000 in 1988. Today, no longer owned by IPC but by Magicalia, it sells just 23127.
It is not just the consumer titles where readers have fallen out of love with the magazine. The same issue of Media Week reported that The Grocer had a paid circulation of 54503. Today it sells 30124. Caterer & Hotelkeeper, which I published for many years, had a sale of 45632 a week in 1988. Today it sells just 11234.
So why am I telling you this? Well nostalgia is always fun but I guess I wanted to share the shock of reading something from more than 20 years ago. We talk about the changes happening to our industry in measured terms, but we often forget just how far we have come. The revenue impact of the fall in paid circulation revenue is huge. Caterer will have lost at least £2m in circulation revenue a year. Woman’s Weekly perhaps £15-20m. Add to that the impact on display advertising. Wow. I don’t have a wonderful insight to share with you about this – just wow!
Related articles by Zemanta
- Sale of three more IPC magazines (guardian.co.uk)
- Mystery as IPC negotiates to sell magazines to offshore owner (guardian.co.uk)
It has been a very busy few weeks, getting ready for the launch of our first Briefing Media product. Thanks to everyone who has been in touch and to the army of folk who have been helping with the technical build and those who have agreed to write expert commentary about the industry. What industry?
We plan to launch a series of Briefing Media sites in several vertical markets over the next few months, but our first is focussed on our own industry, the media business. Our approach is to combine the old and the new to present a compelling lens on the business of media. Original content contributed by experts combined with a search tool that enables users to explore topics of importance to them. Our semantic search technology looks for relationships between topics and organises stories into intuitive categories and channels.
In addition we have begun to commission a series of detailed, practical and expert reports about the key issues facing decision makers in media today. Or first report is almost complete and is available to order at a prepublication discount as soon as the site goes live.
We are also planning some new media events and commissioning a series of training programmes. Much of this is to come in the next few weeks. In the meantime take a look at the site, give us your feedback, sign up for one or more of our free weekly newsletters. If you spot something missing, or have an expert thought you want to share, or have thought of ways you would like to work with us, then do get in touch.
The Media Briefing updates 24 hours a day 7 days a week so we hope to see you often. If you want to be one of the first to see the live site visit now and register your interest. We will let you know just as soon as we are ready to go live.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Neil Thackray’s Business Media Blog: A Future for Business Media (neilthackray.wordpress.com)