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Newsweek, Newspapers and Magazines: Not Undead (Yet)

In Entertainment, Technology on June 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

So, on Monday — for people in the know, or at least those who might have been surfing — Newsweek’s website offered an experience that crossed the line from entertainment to metaphor.

Readers who typed a secret code were greeted with a large headline declaring “Zombies Attack!” and a series of stores chronicling an attack of the undead on the East Coast. There was a timeline, speculation about how the attack started and advice on fighting the zombies (aim for the head).

And while Newsweek’s staff posted a note stating “this isn’t some sort of commentary on our current ownerless limbo…” it’s hard not to see it that way.

The Washington Post Company announced last month that the magazine for sale and there’s been a variety of groups looking to take it over. In the meantime, the magazine is losing staff.

The question is are print publications like Newsweek already a bit undead?

A report out Tuesday from PricewaterhouseCoopers states that the Internet is set to overtake newspapers as the second-largest advertising medium, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The report points out that in the past five years, broadband penetration in the US has grown to 64% from 34% while newspaper revenue has declined almost fifty percent during that time.

And with the growing popularity of tablets and smart phones, PricewaterhouseCoopers sees the mobile ad market also growing, expected to quadruple by 2014.

While there are indications that magazines and newspapers will be able to capitalize on this emerging market, getting as much as five times as much for ads in iPads than they do for print — and that digital versions of magazines could help expand distribution, allowing for the delivery of issues in places where it’s actually easier to send a digital file than a print copy — it’s far from certain all of this will be enough to make a difference.

In the meantime, mobile ad giants such as Apple and Google aren’t taking any chances, battling to dominate the market and grab whatever advertising is to be had.

Of course, as with all competition, this is one battle that’s not exactly filled with polite niceties and it’s already attracted the interest of the Feds.

Maybe publishers such as Wired, GQ and The Wall Street Journal will find ways to make it work for them and develop significant revenue streams allowing them to survive.

Or maybe it’s already too late.

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