Monday, August 6

Timeless Flight - A second bite

And whilst I'm playing catch-up on recent articles, there has been some thoughtful responses about the status of Outdoor magazines.

Lighthiker made an interesting point, which I've heard before, and would mostly agree with. But I think there's more to it than at first glance:

"People have the idea that the Internet is "free" and wouldn't pay for a subscription of a website the same price they pay for the printed magazine. And to some extent I also need to blame bloggers like myself. I post about gear. I make no money out of it and people can read it for free. So if they find the info they want let's say about the latest tents on my blog or others why buying a printed magazine? The only thing that can make a difference would be big in-depth tests and some kind of premium (and I mean premium) content which differs them from what is available for free online. ................ Not many advertisers would move online as their ad will be easier overlooked/clicked away and magazines can't charge them the same rates for online advertising compared to the printed version.Things might change over time when the Internet becomes so cheap and accessible that everybody can use it all the time at every place and the reading habits change also. It will come but probably is 5-10 years from now"

I'd especially agree on the "Internet= Free" model. Would Podcast Bob's excellent output have the same appeal if the podcasts were chargeable? An issue I know Bob continues to tussle with.


For these sort of things I always look to the prime example of supply and demand in action. One of the oldest commercial concerns in the communication medias. It was straight in there as soon as the pictures and the written word started to be used for mass communication.

It is of course the Sex Industry.

Whatever your personal feelings about the product for sale their providers work in one of the strongest surviving markets. And one of the most cut throat and pressured. It is one that's continued to survive despite the attempts of law, social disapproval and religious stricture. Sex sells, as advertisers spend so many dreary millions of $$$$ trying hard to avoid telling us (subtle ads; trick story lines; subliminal messages etc)

But as an industry they are very early adopters in communication and retail environments.
And much as Playboy print magazine of the 50s eventually became a household name, a designer label, and a mult media industry, the modern day spawn of the porn sites were on the net early, and have tried most of the tricks in the book to make websites pay. Even inventing a few new ones along the way, some legitimate, some particularly odious.

Ditto digital TV/view on demand etc - a marketplace in which the big corporations are still very much feeling their way at present.

BTW I'm not suggesting that we should try to make too close a comparison between the outdoor industry here!

But consider some key elements from that sphere.........

  • The way in which the print format has adopted certain facets of the digital media, whilst still retaining some of the traditional format, for non adopters, but with a revised demand model and pricing structure.
  • The adoption of real time information feeds e.g. webcam
  • Interaction with the demand points i.e. Joe Public via a variety of alternatives (e.g. mobile phones)
  • Free site content as a loss leader to a subscription model
  • Ease of use
  • E-tail spin-off business targeting a High Street audience, without the legislative issues or premise overhead. Or the social disapproval.
...... etc etc

I'm no expert in this area- no honestly! But any one who has experienced the Internet for more than a simple usage quickly finds it difficult to avoid a variety of content delivery all trying their independent methods of making that elusive buck. The sex/porn industry, despite its lack of general social acceptability (in fact possibly because of that?) has been by far the one with the most widespread impact globally across the web. And one of the biggest money takers I suspect.
As I said earlier. Watch the model, not the product. Some sales will always be easier. Some models less complex.

But learn from the successful and adapt to your own concern.

"It will come but probably is 5-10 years from now"
I'd say that's already here for some retailers. The question is whether established product providers adopt, adapt, or maybe even just avoid.

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Comments:
Interesting piece, and not a new idea. The web design mags tout it every so often. And why not they are making a profit out of the web, and have developed ways as you said for attracting people and keeping them paying (threat to tell the wife I think).
it's a point I think that the outdoors industry needs to think about.
 
Two words: digital paper.

It will change everything.
 
WD - oh you're a distrustful bugger
;-)

AM - digital paper. Nope you'll have to explain that one.
 
Probably more like "Electronic Paper" than Digital (Wikipedia can tell you more :) It's something that looks like paper but can re-write itself in front of your eyes to be another page of a book or a newspaper or whatever.

AktoMan's nodding towards a point that I was about to make - I like the physical form of a magazine for practical reasons. I spend a lot of time at a computer (some people may not be surprised by that) and like being able to lounge on a bean bag or lie in bed reading a mag.

I've tried the electronic (on a PC screen) version of TGO with it's rather invasive but nicely put together software "reader" application and found that although I was impressed by the thought that had gone into making it magazine like (you sort of turn the pages with the mouse by dragging the corner) it just wasn't as usable as a real mag.

Electronic Paper would mean I could hold something and read it wherever I liked but still have it updated from the web. The best of both worlds perhaps and maybe not very far away (trials of distributing newspapers that way were done last year!)

And I have referred to articles in old magazines (mainly Chris T or Judy Armstrong's it's got to be said!) but more often these days I scan them if I think I may want to and find that an easier way of actually referring to and using them later.

I hope whatever model becomes the norm the ability to copy portions and refer to them even years later isn't lost.
 
cheers RY - I'll keep my eyes open for this one
 
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