In a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that looked in depth at newspaper companies, executives predicted that in five years many newspapers would print only a few days a week, if at all, as they transition to digital formats. The study further found that the search for a new revenue model to revive the newspaper industry is making slow progress In general. Apparently, the shift to replace losses in print ad revenue with new digital revenue is taking longer and proving more difficult than anticipated (for every $7 lost in print revenue only $1 is gained in digital). And though some newspapers are faring better than others, it is likely that many will fail.
Technology has made the world much smaller in many ways. So we must ask ourselves: how many newsgathering organizations do we really need? Certainly the future of newspapers will be determined by the survival of the fittest. Think about what CNN did to television news.
The digital revolution is impacting all publishers. U.S. magazine sales fell nearly 10 percent in the first half of 2012 according to a report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Newsweek recently dropped its print publication for a Web-only presence. US News & World Report dropped its weekly print edition years ago and now focuses on the Web and special print editions. SmartMoney announced in June that it was going all-digital.
In Russia, the short-term outlook may not be as bleak for publishers, since the market has not reached the digital sophistication of the US. But, clearly, the situation in the US is an omen for publishers everywhere.
I believe there may be no widely circulated printed publication of any type eight years from now and that there will be far fewer mainstream publishers overall. Instead we will see many more narrow-focused, highly targeted digital publications or blogazines that will be affiliated under publishing companies who will promote and distribute them. Only the best and brightest of current print media will ultimately make the transition to digital successfully as we grow more comfortable digesting all our media digitally.
I also think sophisticated personal digital assistants will help intuit what and when we want to read, watch and listen from a selection of specialized sources we deem credible.
As reading habits continue to dramatically change, marketers must re-imagine how they will reach their audiences in the future. It’s about to get interesting.